The children of Vandiyooran theru community who were working in farmlands till the mid 70’s were slowly being absorbed by the mushrooming industries in and around erode. Madheswaran joined as an apprentice in a tractor workshop at the age of 9 years, He learnt his skills as a mechanic and electrician quickly and  he had set up his own workshop at erode by the age of 19 years.

The children of Vandiyooran theru community who were working in farmlands till the mid 70’s were slowly being absorbed by the mushrooming industries in and around erode. Madheswaran joined as an apprentice in a tractor workshop at the age of 9 years.

Karungalpalayam near Erode had a spate of violence  when Madheswaran was an adolescent boy. There were local gangs involved in mob violence. When his brother got involved in a duel with a member of  a gang, their father gets beaten up. This was the tipping point for Madheswaran. He says it was like in films, ‘he wanted to take revenge’.  He learnt Kung fu which was then a craze among the youths after watching Bruce- Lee’s films.

It was like in films, ‘he wanted to take revenge’.  He learnt Kung fu which was then a craze among the youths after watching Bruce- Lee’s films.

Over the next few years he rigorously trained himself to get a  black belt. When he finally felt confident that he could beat the guys who had hurt his father, the fate had different story to reveal, When he went in search of them he found out that one had already died and another was in jail. This made him realize that real life is unlike cinema,  people are weak and frail, they succumb to circumstances.  He says ‘Till now he has learnt so many martial arts but never used his knowledge to attack anybody’.

Project Eyam is trying to engage people with oral history of people of Tamilnadu and  through the insights of both old and young to question the mainstream perceptions and explore how this could help bring a deeper understanding about our society’s past and present. Photography and Editing by Balamurali Krishnan