Two days ago, Kerala was oblivious to the existence of Hanan Hamid, a student of Al Azhar College of Arts and Sciences, in Thodupuzha, in Idukki. But a story by Mathrubhumi about this resilient 19-year-old, who sold fish in the local market to fund her college education and make ends meet went viral. Today, however, Hananâ€™s fame has landed her both brickbats and plaudits, all unbeknownst to her.
The Thrissur native who studies BSc Chemistry during the day and sells fish in the evenings was having just another day at work when she was spotted by reporters from the Malayalam media who featured her in the next dayâ€™s papers.
The story showed Hanan in her college uniform and a plastic cap, selling fish in the Palarivattomâ€“Thammanam junction in Kochi. The news did the rounds on social media and Hanan went viral. Following this, channels hounded her and several users applauded the girl for her grit and attitude to life.
Hananâ€™s story struck a chord with many. The daughter of Hamid and Zairabi, an electrician and homemaker, Hanan says her childhood was normal. But Hamid moved out with his wife and children from the house that they lived in with their extended family.
Though Hamid started doing small businesses, he got addicted to alcohol, and thatâ€™s when troubles started for her family, recalls Hanan. Her mother who had been supporting the family till then doing small jobs became confined to the house after an episode of violence in which Hamid attacked her.
Hananâ€™s story has been one of survival and resilience. From taking tuitions for young children, to doing odd jobs like dubbing, standing as a flower girl at events and acting in plays, she has taken on many jobs to pay her fees. She has also had to work to ensure her brother goes to school and her mother is taken care of.
As Hananâ€™s story went viral, among her well-wishers was director Arun Gopi, who offered her a role alongside Pranav Mohanlal in his second film Iruvathionnam Nootandu on learning about the girl from local newspapers.
"Hanan is a good anchor, poet and a dubbing artist. She also knows Kalari. One realising her talent, late actor Kalabhavan Mani used to support her and make her participate in several shows. For a girl like that, I would like to help in whatever way I can. I will also ensure a remuneration that can help her out of the financial problems she is facing currently," Arun Gopi was quoted by local media.
However, a few hours after Arun Gopi made the offer, several social media users lashed out at Hanan and the media house which first broke her story. They stated that this was a campaign by the media house just to grab eyeballs. Users on Facebook also said that Hanan's was a staged act and she sold fish for a total of three days just to be on news.
Hanan had sold fish in Kochiâ€™s Champakkara market only for three days, but what those trolling her mercilessly did not remember was that this was a girl who had done multiple jobs from the time she was in Class 7, simply to make ends meet. She has sold bajjis at a stall, she had anchored small shows in her town, she had also got a chance to do small roles in movies. Abusing her on social media, many used her selfies with film actors to prove their claim that she wasnâ€™t poor, completely forgetting that she had done small roles in movies, and would have interacted with these stars.
One man even did a Facebook Live, alleging that Hanan could not have been poor as she was wearing a gold ring on her fingers. Soon, thousands abused her based on this fact alone, without bothering to learn that the teenager had worked hard for months on end and bought herself something she had always wanted.
Hanan was taken to a hospital on Thursday by her friends; she was clearly depressed over the avalanche of reactions on social media. â€śI have known her for long, how dare people say such stuff about her? Do they know what she is going through? She is my brave friend,â€ť one of Hananâ€™s friends told TNM.