A disabled man from Kerala, India has risen as the living proof of what Ben Franklin said, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” He paved a road out of a hill in three years, all by himself.
We expect far less from a person that lacks the simple bodily functions that most of us are blessed with, but the 63-years-old Melethuveettil Sasi has nerves of steel. The semi-paralyzed man used nothing but some rudimentary tools and dug a road through a hill in front of his house.
Sasi dug a 200-meter dirt road through the hill in front of his house. It took him three years to do this with his physical condition and the limited tools, all for the sake of his family.
Sasi began working as a coconut climber at the age of 15, and one of these hikes ended up in a terrible fall, paralyzing the right side of his body. He was unable to move his limbs for months, and the situation forced his sons to quit school and begin working, as their father stayed in bed. Sasi narrated his story saying,
“I was good at climbing trees, but that day, somehow I slipped. One side of my body was paralyzed. My legs and hands were broken. I spent days and months in bed, not even able to move. It took years for me to even be able to stand up. But I wanted to walk somehow. So I slowly taught myself to walk.”
Melethuveettil Sasi went through years of treatments and physiotherapy and finally began to walk a little. Walking and being able to move the right hand slightly was not enough to get him back to his old job of climbing trees. Sasi considered buying a three-wheeled scooter so as he may ride to a nearby city and sell lottery tickets. He looked towards the local authorities for some financial support to buy the scooter.
The “Panchayat,” the local authority in the village, refused and started laughing at him as there were no roads for the motorcycle to run. He spent the next ten years begging the authorities to build a road from his village, but all those efforts ended up in vain. After getting rejected for ten years, Sasi took the matter into his own hands and set off to carve a road through the hill, all by himself.
His physical disabilities added an extra struggle to the task, but the strength of his mind did not let that become a dead-end. He relied on simple tools like shovels and pickaxes and set out to create an opportunity for himself.
“I never thought about when I would finish the work. I was just determined to have a road. Every day, I would begin my work at 5 am, then stop at around 8.30am when the day began to get hot, and resume the work at around 3.30pm or 4pm and work till the sun went down.”
The paralysis and years of staying in bed had left Sasi’s body unable to perform any physical labor, and he continued to lose his balance while digging.
“Initially, I got injured many times. I couldn’t balance well when I swung the pickax and fell often. But eventually, I managed to tame my body.”
Instead of helping the poor man, the locals often came and laughed at him for his craziness. When the digging finally took off, and the road began to materialize, people’s comments changed from criticism to appreciations.
Six hours of labor every day for three consecutive years brought Sasi to his goal. Then came an electrical pole, blocking the way of his road. This time, he needed help from authorities.
“There is an electrical pole in the way that has to be removed to complete the road to my house. There are only a few meters of work left. All the rest is done,” explained Sasi.
Sasi dug the road till pole until last year, and the Panchayat did nothing to help him. Apparently, they did not wish to fund the scooter he once asked for. When the story went viral, the authorities were pressured by the public to remove the pole from the way finally. The people on the internet got together and pitched in money to buy Sasi his three-wheeled scooter, as a gift for his services.