hile the tsunami stimulated the charity hormones of many, few made it a long-term cause. Few dropped anchor. One of those who did was Revathi Radhakrishnan. The filmmaker, journalist and activist landed in Nagapattinam as a volunteer and worked ten days. On January 7, ’05, she had a chance encounter with Malliga and her baby Lakshmi at the local bus-stand. The mother was begging and the child was sick. Revathi wondered why someone was begging when food and relief was in excess of requirements. Malliga was an Aadiyan, an itinerant community, which considers begging and selling plastic wares as its kulathozhil
(caste occupation). Malliga led Revathi to the larger Aadiyan group of 43 families who were all huddled in a park since no official relief camp gave them room.
Seven years ago, the Aadiyans had ‘settled’ in MGR Nagar along the sea. The tsunami had swallowed all their kuccha houses. Since their pre-tsunami life wasn’t fixed, the administration quickly decided that the Aadiyans were not ‘tsunami-affected’. Revathi also...