Living beyond Covid blues: Mahinkutty’s Eid celebration with books

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The life of K A Mahinkutty Kanjarathingal, a small-scale grocery shop owner, is nothing less than a roller coaster ride.A polio survivor, the 55-year-old surpassed the challenges of life with sheer gumption and his love for books.

Even while going through irreparable business losses after demonetisation, floods and the ongoing Covid-induced crisis, Mahinkutty has kept a collection of books at his shop to stay sane. While the state celebrates Eid Al Adha on Wednesday, the veteran relishes the festive mood in his world of books.

“My life has always been filled with challenges. Starting from accidents to continuous economic issues, life has always been zigzagged with crises. It’s my reading habit that always kept me going amid the challenges. I have a membership at Venus Club Library, Kaloor since 1980. I was just a 14-year-old then. Besides, it’s routine for me to visit the Prabhat Book’s moving bookstall at Menaka. I bought ‘The Mother’ a novel by Maxim Gorky then and it still remains a valued possession. Though it was comics and weeklies which took me to the world of reading, I later turned to novels. No matter, whatever happens, a day won’t pass in my life without reading a book,” said Mahinkutty.

He always kept a collection of books at his shop and spent his free time reading. “Even while going through Bakrid festivities, I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s Nirabedhangal these days. After seeing my book collection, many customers often take books from me. Even distributing books is a source of happiness for me,” he said

While starting his career as an accountant in Ernakulam Market, Mahinkutty’s life changed with the decision to set up his own business in 2016. “I started my wholesale shop of essential items in 2016 spending the savings of a lifetime. I used to have a daily collection of up to Rs 60,000 during those days. But everything turned upside down with the demonetisation. It hugely affected our sales and gradually I found it difficult to even pay my monthly rent of Rs 21,000. Still, I continued with the shop amid the losses. In 2018, I met with an accident at Deshabhimani Junction and faced a severe injury on my backbone. I became bedridden for almost 18 months. In between, the unprecedented floods ravaged normal life. It became impossible for me to manage to shop. Still, my son managed it to an extent but we decided to shut the shop in April 2021. Now, I’m managing our expenses with the small grocery shop at Karukappilly these days,” he said.

It’s never been a smooth ride for Mahinkutty. Along with the financial crisis, he was forced to manage the health issues of his family members. “Ever since the accident, life was never been normal for me. My daughter was suffering from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and was undergoing treatment for more than five years. We have managed to cure her to an extent and she is the mother of two children now. While my son was working as an area manager of a smartphone company, my accident has forced him to leave his job to look after my business. Amid all these crises, we couldn’t complete the construction of our own home as well. I have taken a loan for the construction and failed to repay the EMI all these months,” he said.

Along with reading, the quinquagenarian is also finding some time for other pursuits. “Along with reading, singing is also a passion for me. My wife often wonders how I am engaging with these activities amid the crisis. Whether I pursue them or not, they will remain challenges. Why should I give up my happiness for the indefinite challenges of life?” Mahinkutty concludes with a smile.

Source – The New Indian Express

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