George Koshy, CNN-IBN
November 28, 2006
Mallapuram District (Kerala): In the Padinjatumuri village of Mallapuram district, a teacher, Abdul Malik, swims for a living but he’s no professional swimmer.
He doesn’t intend to break swimming legend Ian Thorpe's records but Malik swims because it is the shortest way to the school where he teaches.
"There are no bridges to cross this river and the only other route to the school is a two-hour long trek. Therefore, swimming happens to be the only choice,” says Malik.
In fact, taking a bus to work would mean a 20-minute wait at the stop and an hour and half on the bus.
Instead, he carries an extra pair of clothes, wraps a rubber tube around him and takes the plunge into the Kadalundi river. He has been doing this for the past 12 years.
"He is very punctual. In fact much more than those who use other modes of transport. His dedication to his work is superb,” says Headmaster of AMLPS School, K M Mohammed Basheer.
"We love this teacher," says a student at the school where he teaches.
Little wonder, since he’s never late, not even during the monsoon, when the currents in the river are treacherous.
Dangers may be many, but one thing that still motivates him to brave risks are the voices of his students.
"We wait for him to arrive each day,” says another student.
With another motorable bridge just a few kilometres away, the government maintains that building another bridge is not economical.
And for this teacher, buying a boat is too expensive. But boat or no boat, what the teacher maintains is that reaching his school and teaching there is his greatest gift.