One vehicle that no one wants to see at their home is an ambulance. But Kalikavu decided to vote for the driver of an ambulance, and made him the panchayat president.
There were two reasons for this. First, the assurance that he will be there for everybody at any time of the day or night. Second, the belief that he could spearhead the developmental march of the panchayat the same way he clears hurdles and takes lives to safety when he is behind the wheels.
Ultimately, it was qualities like compassion and efficiency that made Karuvathil Najeeb the panchayat president. There is another interesting element in his victory. He won from a ward that was the bastion of CPM for 20 years; that too in his electoral debut.
Residents quip that when many people are still on the voter list thanks to Najeeb, how can they not vote for him!
Najeeb was the ambulance driver of the Melekalikavil Vyapari Vyavasayi Ekopana Samithi for seven years. During this time, he has saved the lives of more than a thousand people. "At times, I had worked without sleep and food for two-three days. I was at the beck and call of everyone, be it in midnight or in the wee hours. There are no junctions between Kalikavu and Kozhikode where I haven't stopped my vehicle and slept due to utter exhaustion," says Najeeb.
Won't forget that day
Once, Najeeb took a heart attack patient from Kalikavu to Kozhikode in 45 minutes. The distance he covered could be around 70km. When doctors told him that the patient could have died even if there was a delay of a few seconds, Najeeb couldn't stop a smile of satisfaction appearing on his face.
What was the most painful experience? An infant got electricity shock from inverter. When he was rushing to the hospital with the infant, he had only one prayer on his lips. But, he had to return with the body of the child covered in white.
He still remembers the face of the infant -- the one when the infant was carried on to the ambulance and when the toddler returned from the hospital with face covered.
Today, he feels that the he is more content taking an accident victim to hospital than leaving the panchayat office at 5 in the evening.
Ready to take the wheels again
The ambulance trips have come down after he became the panchayat president and started shouldering the responsibilities that come with the position.
But, if there is an emergency, Najeeb, a father of five, is ready to hit the road again. The ambulance is parked in front of his house itself, with "AMBULANCE" written in mirrored text, so that other motorists see the word the right way around in their rear-view mirror and yield the right of way.
When we read the word 'Politics', even if it is written correctly, it appears upside down! But when people like Najeeb are around even politics becomes a service.