Heroes are all around us. Only if we observe with a keen eye and open heart, we’ll see the world as thriving because of humans with extraordinary kindness. Aren’t these our superheroes, after all? Not the ones with capes and magic powers, not the ones with fanfare and pop, but kind, gentle souls with vision and courage. Here’s the story of the extraordinary life of an ordinary librarian (P Sukumaran) from India, whose work and mission has changed the life of many.
The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Librarian (P Sukumaran) From India:
The Man (P Sukumaran)
P Sukumaran is a librarian with the Kumarapuram Public Library. This is located in the Karuvatta village of the Alappuzha district of Kerala. But he isn’t your average librarian who wears thick rimmed glasses and spends hours arranging, cleaning and looking after books. He is a walking librarian – a mobile library in himself. Every day since he began work with the library in his early 20s, consistently for 41 years, he delivers books to 35 homes in the Karuvatta and Kumarapuram gram panchayats. Every day in the morning, he arrives at the library at around 8.30 in the morning. And every day, at around 10,30, he takes about sixty to seventy books, a packed lunch and sets off to complete his mission.
P Sukumaran’s vision is to inculcate in his villagers a profound love of reading. He believes that reading makes people wise, helps you understand the world better and makes you a better person. And, he believes that the habit of reading can do wonders in the life of people. He thinks it absolutely essential, as he tells The Better India, to read extensively, get inspired and build a society that thrives on humility. And so, he walks over twelve kilometres every day to deliver books to women and children. He doesn’t know how to ride a bicycle, and prefers walking over other modes of transport.
But it’s not a tedious task for him. He says that he genuinely loves it, and that it’s his passion, even though it may be effortful. He lives in a rental house with his wife and 12 year old autistic son. His dream is to own a house, but much of his meagre salary of 3100 rupees and a 30% commission on the delivery given by the library goes into his son’s treatment. But this joy of reading, and his imparting that joy to children, makes him forget his personal problems. He says that it energizes him, he feels joy in it.
Apart from serving as a distraction and giving joy, it also allows him access to vivacious natural life. His walks in the lush greenery and bountiful natural beauty give him pleasure, he says. And additionally, he loves sharing things and talking about the books he loves. These walks, and his work as a walking librarian, give him a chance to interact with people who love books, especially children.
How, you might wonder, did this innovative idea start? Well, the library, which came into existence in 1950, was one of the finest institutions of learning in the area. But for a few years, it had been dilapidated. The numbers were dwindling, and the costs were continually going up. This is what prompted Sukumaran’s initiative. Today, thanks to him, villagers all over have access to books, and the library is in a sound financial state. Even when the great floods of 2019 destroyed around 6000 books among the 2000 tests that called the library their home, the library could survive. And for this, it owed a lot to Sukumaran’s tremendous effort.
Today, P Sukumaran’s life isn’t perfect, but his resolve is. For the tremendous impact he has had and for his dedication, he is the recipient of the Das Memorial Award by the Kerala State Library Council Staff Association.
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P Sukumaran: The Extraordinary Life Of An Ordinary Librarian From India