A man among ordinary mortals

I have been plonking my way through the key board to put in a few words about a lovely person I read about last week. His name is Panankoodan Poulose Joemon, P P Joemon in short. He has two Post Graduate Degrees in literature, one each in English and Malayalam. Knowing a bit about education in Kerala, India, I would say that this man spent over twenty in school and college.

The Big Fisherman, P P Joemon

The Big Fisherman, P P Joemon

Joemon hails from a poor family in Companypadi, Alwaye and came through a childhood of severe poverty. After basic schooling, Joemon started selling fish to fund his college education. Later, even after his multiple university degrees, he could not find a steady job. He does teach at a tutorial college (usually an underpaid, privately owned tuition home) and also at an English language coaching institute, but neither are steady long term prospects. So he chose to continue his career as a retail fish salesman. Joemon goes to the fish auctioning centres early in the morning and gets his daily sales stock of the damp, smelly stuff. Loading his day’s merchandise on his pushbike he pedals around his town giving out the local fisherman’s loud cry, ‘poohoooy’. He finishes the rounds before his teaching hours and reaches his classroom washed and tidy, on time.

Despite his credentials as a teacher, if anyone asks him what he does for a living, Joemon says with all humility that he is a fish vendor. I love that. In a country where a rich businessman’s or politician’s idiot son becomes a practicing doctor by virtue of his dad’s money power, (does not matter that he did his medical degree in nine years rather than the regular four, or how much he contributes to the local undertaker’s business in the near future) this gem of a man pedals along with his load of fish through the streets of a state neck deep in hypocrisy.

People not half as qualified as Joemon are sitting in the Government Secretariat and other public offices deciding when an old man would get his pension or why a cripple should not get his wheel chair, taking their own sweet time about it. They go on to become government secretaries and accounts managers and many wade their way through corruption for a comfortable living.

Bachelor boy Joemon’s only regret is also noted. No girl wants a fish vendor as her husband. Sadly, the girls are missing a pot of gold on THIS end of the rainbow. Those who reject him will probably end up in bed with a crooked, under educated idiot who got his ‘respectable’ job by bribing his way through and hopes to keep his home fire burning by accepting bribes himself. If I were a tycoon owning a multinational or something similar, I would have offered Joemon a top job in my PR or HR team. Well done, Joemon, this country needs more genuine people like you. Cheers.

I have chosen the name of Lloyd C Douglas’ novel as the caption of this post on purpose. It is a big sea out there and we need Big Fishermen like Joemon. We require men like him to be the rock on which we can build a real nation. Bless you, Joemon.

Not beside the point

Joemon is also an aspiring poet. His friends are currently trying to publish a collection of his work. If you ask him why he chose the life of a fish vendor, he will recite a poem, his own, let me say. I will do my best to translate it.


The sun, glorious sun

rises each morning

his charity spills

on every dark slum.

I know now

that we have not

the sun’s honour,

have chosen instead

to stroll down

stairways of self-deceit.

Citadels of hypocrisy

crumble, even as

streams of sweat,

toil, spill through.

I’ve left behind

silver lined shams

and have come to know

dark, beautiful truths..

I leave alone

naive destiny,

unjust it is

to blame providence.

Trivia: I have the greatest respect for Christianity, as it originally appeared in the world and, just a few decades later, in India. I mention ‘in India’ here because, in the last two thousand years or so, a bunch of resilient Christian missionaries have done far more for the poor, oppressed, low castes and uneducated in India than all the multi billions of eyewash thrown down the drains by democratic India and its corrupt politicians, since 1947. The indirect reference to St Peter is acknowledged.

Picture Courtesy: Mathrubhumi Daily


3 responses to “THE BIG FISHERMAN

  1. Hi.. I really respect and like Joemon.. He is the sort of person I always wanted to meet.. Proud of doing a job.. Without any status botheration..
    Really he is great..

  2. salute to “this gem of a man who pedals along with his load of fish “.great!

  3. Narayan Das Raman

    A touch of Santiago there. Life is a fight and Joemon is a fighter with zero airs whatever the odds that are thrown against him.

    The world’s problem is the dearth of good men like him.

    Prithvi, I’m copying the link.

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