Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted”. And one man in Kerala didn’t waste that opportunity even when death came knocking.
That probably saved his life as well.
A resident of Narkkilakkad in Kasaragod district, Rajesh Chaitram used to be timber-loading worker before the near-fatal accident left him wheelchair-bound.
Today, he is a huge sensation amongst the folks of Kannur and Kasargod for his rib-tickling mimicry show that went live on a local Malayalam channel.
In fact, people loved the show so much that the YouTube video of the same has garnered millions of views!
“I never thought of making a living by cracking jokes. Now, with the help of my friends, I’m taking baby steps in the mimicry world,” said the 34-year-old to The New Indian Express.
Rajesh had been loading timber from a truck near his place along with five other workers on the day of the incident. After many failed attempts to load the freight, they decided to let go of the wood.
However, Rajesh was quick to realise that this would end up hurting one of his friends. “If I too had pushed it away, the timber would’ve landed on my friend,” he recalled. He held on, preventing the load from falling on his friend. It fell on him instead.
Though the heroic act did save his friend, it nearly cost him his own life. Though there wasn’t a visible bruise or injury on his body, Rajesh could barely move a limb. The extent of damage was discovered only when the doctors of a nearby hospital studied his X-ray.
After noting his completely shattered bones and the blood entering his lungs, they refused to take responsibility for his life and asked his friends to take him to Mangalore.
While most people would have been devastated and given up the will to live, Rajesh tried to humour his friends throughout the two-hour journey to the city.
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From asking his friends to buy cotton balls to ‘plug’ his nose to requesting a studio owner to use smiling photographs for the obituary announcement, the man kept cracking jokes at his own expense.
Throughout the trip, his friends kept him in good humour and didn’t let him close his eyes even for a second.
Thanks to his comic banter, Rajesh’s internal bleeding remained low, which was corroborated by Dr Shantaram Shetty, an orthopaedist of Tejasvani Hospital in Mangalore.
“The doctor told me I would survive. My calm composure checked the internal bleeding,” he said.
After a month in Mangalore, he shifted to a hospital closer to home at Taliparamba where he was bedridden for almost four months. His friends and villagers have managed to raise ₹8 lakh for his treatment, though he ended up paying almost double the amount.
Currently, he lives with his family in a rented house at Vadassery Mukku near Payyannur where he is undergoing Ayurvedic treatment.
Though the accident had completely debilitated his legs, the treatment has helped Rajesh regain slight sensation in one of his toes.
During his days in the hospital, Rajesh killed time by sketching. While drawing and mimicry had been his forte throughout his school days, he couldn’t make a living out of either and took to timber loading – which paid him enough to sustain his family.
However, the comic talent lying dormant in Rajesh came back to life only through his wife Priya’s constant prodding.
Having laughed in the face of death, Rajesh is determined to let no disability slow him down. And with his TV stint finding great popularity amidst people, he has plans of taking up mimicry as a full time vocation now.
Talk about a laughing spirit!