Panchami of Erumeli town, Pathanamthitta district, first saw the man – he was shaking sand out of a piece of paper and putting it into his mouth, spitting out the stones that he couldn’t eat.
“There is a culvert near the Ayurveda shop I work in. I saw the man sitting near it, and noticed he was eating sand. I wasn’t sure what he was doing so I kept watching at first,” she tells TNM. “I then went to the man who runs the firm next to mine, and we both went closer to him. We were so shocked by what we saw!”
Guruswamy, a 52-year-old man from Theni, Tamil Nadu, was eating sand for he hadn’t eaten in two days. Moved, locals rushed to get him food and even collected some money to pay for his bus fare back home.
“He was sitting in the scorching sun, eating sand. We took to him to a nearby shop, sat him down and got him food. I am happy I alerted people about the sight, rather than ignoring him,” smiles Panchami.
Guruswamy told the locals that he had been taken to Sabarimala on work by some of his relatives, but they sent back without giving him any money. Erumeli town is about two-hours away from Sabarimala.
“He kept repeating this incident each time we asked him how he came here. We understood then he couldn’t be a mental health patient for he would have given us different answers then,” says Syam, a resident of Erumali.
According to locals, Guruswamy was sent back from Sabarimala for he was deemed too unfit for the job.
“He boarded a bus to Erumeli from Sabarimala, and his plan was to take a bus to Theni from here. But he didn’t have enough money to take him to Theni. It seems he hadn’t eaten in two days,” adds Syam.
The police too reached the spot when they heard of the incident. Together with the locals, they managed to collect some money to send him home.
“We can’t say it was a huge amount of money, but it was enough to ensure he could go home,” Syam says.