Postcards from the edge

about 2 years ago
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Annappa Chougule is 66 years of age, poor but very inspiring. Studied only till class 9, for 34 years he worked in a sugar factory and then for four years in the water supply department of Kabnur town. Since the past two years is working as a watchman in a power loom unit in Ichalkaranji. He earns Rs.5000 a month for 8 hours of work but the small joy that he is spreading leaves one speechless.

He has taken to writing postcards to all and sundry, to anyone who achieves anything – be it small or big. Right from writing a congratulatory letter to Modi for winning the elections to wishing people for their anniversary, weddings, birthdays, for standing first in the class, to passing the exams; he thinks no achievement is small and needs words of encouragement.

In the past seven years, he has sent 900 postcards marking birthdays, wedding anniversaries and various achievements to people in villages and towns across Kolhapur and Sangli districts. He has subscribed to three Marathi newspapers and his day begins by identifying inspirational stories; he makes a note of it in his book and then finds the address of the achiever form friends and acquaintances. He writes out the postcards in Marathi using refills. For birthday and anniversary wishes, he has a standard text but for achievers, he personalises each message, writing about their work and congratulating them. If the address is less than 6 km away, he cycles over to deliver the postcard personally.

The journal, on which he has spent Rs 8,000 of his savings, is naturally a treasure for Chougule. Till date, in seven years and 900 postcards, he has got only 70 replies or thank you’s. What does that say about us?

We, the city dwellers earn so many times more than Chougule but do we have the time to pen two sentences of encouragement to even those in the family? His postcards might not mean much to many as he is neither the PM nor the President but as a human being, he probably ranks much higher!

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