A teacher who swims through a river everyday to get to his
studentsAt 9 am on a weekday, Abdul Mallik is busy wading
through neck-high water, a tyre-tube around his waist, his
tiffin box and shoes held in one hand above the muddy river.
It's hardly the average morning commute, but for this 40-
year-old teacher, it's all in a day's work.This is what it
takes Mr Mallik to get to the primary school where he has
been employed for 20 years in a village in the Malappuram
district of Kerala.
"If I go by bus, it takes me three hours to
cover the 12-kilometre distance, but swimming through the
river is easier, faster and I reach school on time," he says,
after he emerges from the river 15 minutes later. He changes
into a dry set of clothes on the river bank, and then treks
uphill for 10 minutes before he reaches school.
An average salary for government teachers like him is around Rs.
25,000.The compensation, he says, lies elsewhere. As he
arrives at his classroom, a bunch of excited students
surround him with their offerings of cards and letters for
A staunch environmentalist, he often takes
his students swimming, hoping the field trip will impress
upon them the need to save the river, swirling with filth, that
he navigates every day.A seven-year old student, Jahangir,
smiles shyly when asked what he wants to be when he grows
up. "Like Mallik Master," he says.