Padma Shri Harekala Hajabba reveals his Mysuru connection
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Padma Shri Harekala Hajabba reveals his Mysuru connection

November 22, 2021

I was a dishwasher at a hotel in Mysuru and I got the idea of selling oranges at Devaraja Market.

Mysore/Mysuru: Padma Shri awardee Harekala Hajabba from Dakshina Kannada, whose humility can put anyone to shame, has revealed his connection with Mysuru and said that it was at Devaraja Market he got an idea of selling oranges to make a living. Decades ago, he was working as a dishwasher at a hotel in Mysuru.

Narrating his life story at a felicitation programme organised to honour him by Rashtrothana Sahitya Parishat, Bengaluru at the ongoing Kannada Book Festival at Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry on Vinoba Road in city yesterday, Hajabba’s eyes turned teary when he was describing how hunger had forced him to migrate to Mysuru from the then Mangaluru (now Dakshina Kannada).

 Dressed in a white cotton mundu and a plain white cotton shirt, top buttons of which are all open, showing a part of the white vest inside, Harekala Hajabba told Star of Mysore that in 1979 he was 22 years old and his family in Mangaluru lived in penury.

“I came to Mysuru as hunger pangs forced me to do so and I started work in a hotel as a dishwasher. There were many poor dishwashers with me and we used to retire for the day after back-breaking work on a charpoy,” he said.

 “My brother in my native place was unwell and the family had to be run. I worked for 10 days in the hotel and wanted to return to my native place and the hotel owner was kind enough to give me some money. Those days it was a big sum and he provided me food also,” he said.

 After leaving the hotel, Hajabba went to Devaraja Market and saw many vendors selling oranges. “I too thought of going to Mangaluru and starting a small orange business but I did not have the money to even buy some fruits. I borrowed some money in 1980 and finally started to sell oranges,” he recalled.

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Hajabba can’t read or write but through selling oranges he enabled the creation of a wonderful institution that would provide education for hundreds of students in his village.

“I received three awards in Mysuru — RamaGovinda Trust honoured me twice and Rangayana has honoured me once. Mysuru remains in my heart,” he said. On the Padma Shri award, he said, “this is not my effort, this has been made possible by hundreds of people, who have all through these years contributed whatever they could to build our school and to ensure it is the best.”

 Hajabba wants to get a PU College for his village now and after receiving the Padma Shri, he sought the help of Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “I have two daughters and one son who works in a printing press. My wife is bed-ridden for the last 20 years and I have the responsibility of marrying off my children and also to build a PU College,” he said.

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