The Man on Wheels: Selvam

“I was 9 years old when my family moved from Sanjeev Nagar to a place next to Celebration community, in Auroville. They came for work – my parents were appointed as caretakers. Life was pretty hard then, with all of us struggling under one tiny thatched roof. My brother and I were sent to a government school in Pondicherry, but school life never attracted me and I longed to be back in Auroville before the evenings. I would eagerly climb the bullock cart – sometimes full of compost! – that rode towards the garden at Discipline community. I made two friends there, Catherine and Dorla, with whom I spent my time playing, while the cart driver worked in the garden. Sometimes I would assist him and it felt good, the feel of the plants and trees.

When I was 12, I left school and joined the Discipline community garden to work, which was a way to collect a bit of pocket money. Soon, Discipline community became my home. I started spending late evenings and nights there. After work I would sleep in a keet hut, counting the stars in the sky for long hours. Later I shifted permanently to Auroville, but I failed to persuade my family who went back to the village.

I must have been 14, when I met Dominique Parizotthe, a French man living in Revelation. He used to run a library for kids. When we began to get friendly, he voiced that he strongly disagreed with me working. ‘Boys at your age should be learning,’ he said. He helped me to clear a small loan from Discipline and he was determined to educate me. He got me enrolled at an evening school, Meenakshi Amma’s ‘Ilaignarkal Education Centre’.

I soon opted out of it, wanting to get back to garden work. But Dominique put his foot down and enrolled me in yet another school at New Creation, hoping this time I would stick to it. At the school here Babu and Sugumar, were my first teachers, and were very much a mother-like figure to me. I enjoyed learning with them. Later the determined Dominique talked to Sanjeev and got me enrolled at Last School. During my free time I would accompany Dominique and the pool of workers in building up the Horizon Community. Assisting the landscaping team, was actually my first school towards  creativity. Presently, I share a brotherly relation with Dominique. He lives at Simplicity and me at La Ferme. I believe it is now my turn to look after him and I am doing my best.

I was happy to work, as I just could not bear to be quiet. My eyes, ears and mind were always open. During this time there was an excitement growing in people around me over the building of the Matrimandir, and I was completely mesmerized by the idea. When the work began, they needed more hands to work  and somehow, I got myself completely included in the construction of Matrimandir. As the structure grew, so did my faith. Internally I began feeling close to the Mother and Auroville. It was a supportive team. Surprisingly we were never tired while working, in spite of the rising heat. There was always this feeling of oneness – we automatically doubled our energy and time. I could and still feel a positive energy around me whenever I am near Matrimandir.

Once the construction of the Matrimandir main building was over, I did not know where to go. I continued working with the landscaping team there. It’s been ages now that I work as a coordinator in the landscape team, and there is still a kind of a magnetic feeling that makes me work here for hours. And it’s not just me – I believe it is a kind of spiritual work for the entire team. Sometimes I have this sudden feeling of some incomplete work that needs to be done on the premises, and I simply can’t stop myself…. I just know I need to reach the place whatever the hour might be and complete what has to be done.

The people who come to in Auroville nowadays are Aurovilians, but somewhere the connection, like in the old times, is missing. One needs to understand it is not a part time work, but that we are giving ourselves to the Divine fully, doing our best for the growth of Auroville.

I also spent some years in Entry Service. At that time, becoming an Aurovilian was not at all complicated as it is now. Today, if you have a desire to become an Aurovilian, you get tangled up in a complicated system!  You have to face a number of different subgroups and a lot of paperwork. How does this entire process make sure that finally you have succeeded in selecting the right person to be an Aurovilian? Mother never said this. In fact the Auroville Charter says that ‘. Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole.’

We should stick to a simple procedure that is understood by everyone and easy to follow. The Mother had always wanted Auroville to be a population of fifty thousand people. But today after fifty years of Auroville, we are still less than five thousand people. We need to welcome and support people who believe in the idea of the Mother and Auroville. Some just lose hope and go back, as they don’t have enough money to survive here. It is a serious issue! Aurovilians need to come together and think on how we can welcome more and more people to join the City of Dawn.

Nowadays, I am fully occupied at Matrimandir and with my ‘Selvam Multi-Purpose Team’ project to help people in Auroville with gardening, painting or maintenance work at their residence and units. In the beginning I had a team of five people and we would work only in the evenings after the duty at Matrimandir, but gradually the work extended. Now I have a team of twenty members, so that includes a day team.

My day begins at dawn where I schedule the appointments, work with the team and then leave them to their work areas. Later I move to Matrimandir to begin my work for the day. I believe I am working under Her guidance. She is taking care of me. I only wish and pray I can continue serving Matrimandir until my last breath.”

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