“Mann Ki Baat from a small hotel owner to a former tea vendor,”
“My name is Yahiya. Peers call me Yahi, others prefer calling Yahikkakka. I am nearly 70 years old, a native of Kadakkal Mukkunnam in Kerala’s Kollam district. I live with my wife and two daughters.
When I realised I cannot marry off my daughter from what I make from climbing coconut trees and working in farms, I sold everything I had and went to the Gulf. Nothing but a life of suffering awaited me there, a poor, uneducated man. I came back with whatever little I made. With that money, and a bank loan from Kadakkal Co-operative bank, I got my daughter married.
I found a new way to sustain myself and family by starting this RMS fast food joint.
I handle the entire hotel myself, from cooking to serving to cleaning. So I chose to wear a nightie. My customers enjoy the tasty beef and chicken fry I serve from 5 PM till midnight, and stay entertained by what they consider a ridiculous attire for a man. Had I been running this store in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, I would have been hanged.
I was living, facing one day at a time, till Prime Minister Modi announced the demonetization of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.
I had Rs 23,000 in cash, all in the demonetised notes. I tried my best to get it exchanged from nearby banks, stood in queues for two days. On the second day, blood sugar level dropped and I almost collapsed. Some Good Samaritans helped me to a government hospital.
Other than the loan account at the co-operative bank, I don’t have a bank account. Since all transactions at co-operative banks were frozen, I realised I cannot get it deposited anywhere.
How many days should I stand in queues to get the money I saved, my money, the money I made working hard for hours straight over the years, deposited?
When I got home from the hospital, I lit my choolah and burnt the entire Rs 23,000 in it. I then went to a nearby barber shop, shaved off half my already bald head.
I vow to grow it back only when PM Modiji, the man who, in a jiffy, burnt all my hard work and savings into ashes, is voted out of power and this country is saved.
This is my pledge and my protest.”