When he first met Advocate J Sandhya, Suresh would not even look at her face. All he spoke about was death. Lines he’d repeat to the unit doctors at a mental health care institute in Thiruvananthapuram. That’s where Suresh and his family are now, with nowhere else to go. They have been kicked out of the rented house they stayed in Malayinkeezhu, and according to Sandhya, Suresh slipped into depression, seeing the only means of his income die in front of his eyes.
His aquarium, a business he had been running for years, was destroyed in the process of his eviction. Sandhya, pained by the story of the family including his partner and two little girls aged three and 10, made a post on Facebook two days ago. The pictures she shared showed several glass boxes that lay scattered on the yard outside the house with nothing inside them anymore. All the living creatures Suresh had fondly raised were no more.
An unexpected lot of response came, offering support to Suresh and his family. When Sandhya saw Suresh again, there was for the first time in his face, a smile. Madam is god, he said, and announced the amount he got on his account, following Sandhya’s post.
“He could be discharged within a week. They have been living in a small house after the eviction. One of my volunteers has spoken to the owner to allow the family to continue staying there till March 18. We can find alternatives in the meantime. MLA IB Sathish has come forward, saying he could find an affordable place for the family. Officials of the District Child Protection Unit also came to check on the children, who have been staying at the mental health care with Suresh and their mother,” Sandhya says. The elder child could not even go to school and her exams were coming, but perhaps the new support could help her.
Issues with house owner
Problems began when Suresh could not afford to pay his rent for three months. The owner of the house went to the Malayinkeezhu police station in October 2019. “That is true. Since it is a civil issue, we asked them to go to court for it. After that, we hear that the owner had forced the family out,” says Malayinkeezhu Station House Officer.
However, in Sandhya’s post, it is said that the eviction happened with the support of the police. “That’s what the neighbours said. When the house owner went to police, Suresh had settled the dues and it was agreed that the family can stay there for one more month but should move out after that. However, before the deadline was over, the owner, and reportedly with the support of the police, evicted them and threw out their possessions.”
Among these were the aquariums that Suresh had invested a lot on. As soon as he saw them coming to his house for forced eviction, Suresh had gone to the Collectorate to seek help. However, when he came back, he witnessed the sight of the fish and the other little creatures in his aquarium die. This apparently drove him into depression, Sandhya says.
For four days after that, they stayed on in the verandah of the house, with no access to the indoors. “After this, thorns were installed on the verandah so sleeping there was no longer an option. Suresh found another smaller place for rent in a colony nearby for Rs 1000 a month. He never stepped out of his house for days and was taken to the mental health care centre. After some time, the new owner too wanted the family out,” says Sandhya. But her volunteer has persuaded them to allow time till March 18.
Suresh has been getting better with treatment, but the new support that’s suddenly come his way, appears to have given him hope, Sandhya says. “That, there are people with him. They have not been getting any family support so far.”