If young Arnav in Chennai is an exemplar for the young, an octogenarian couple in Madurai shows that altruists never retire. When the lockdown was announced R. Sekkappan, who owns a petrol bunk in Madurai, received information from a friend in his native Okkur village in Sivaganga district that villagers, mostly agricultural labourers, had only a few days of rations left. Sekkappan ordered 800 bags of rice of 10 kilos each and with the help of a transporter friend he and his wife Nagammai (80) delivered it to his village, about 90 km from Madurai. “We had to take permission from district collectors of Madurai and Sivaganga to transport the rice, as it is an essential commodity. They granted it once they learnt who the beneficiaries were,” says Sekkappan (80).
Then, with the help of local panchayat members over two days, they distributed the rice to the neediest households so that they would have food till they collected their 20 kilos from ration shops from April 1. On finding that many required cooking oil and dal, they arranged to distribute them as well. The couple also had corona awareness slogans in Tamil printed on the bags.
“Our children live in the US and were happy to learn about our gesture. They have offered to support other similar gestures not just in our village but also in Madurai city,” says Sekkappan.