Once Kerala's sports heroes, Couple struggle to make both ends meet; Ockhi adds to woes
Kattapana: Sharlin Joseph and Shemeena Jabbar...The two names that once made Kerala proud on race tracks, are now slowly fading into oblivion.
The love for sports united them in life. For almost seven years, they remained 'unchalleged' in the entire country in their respective games.
But now, the plastic shack they live in with two children have a different story to tell, that of cheating and deceit.
It was in 2002, Sharlin aka Ashkar and Shemeena came to the limelight. 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and Cross Country were their forte. Their success made many colleges approach them with admission offers.
Shemeena took admission at the Assumption College and Sharlin at SB College both at Changanasserry under the same management. During the initial days, Shemeena was helped with Rs 50,000 by the college authorities seeing her financial crisis.
At first, they were provided with better training facilities but only for a short term. Meanwhile, Shemeena had an attack of jaundice. The college authorities neither provided treatment nor allowed her to contact home.
With this Sharlin and Shemeena decided to get transfer certificates from the colleges. But the authorities demanded the Rs 50,000 back. Fighting odds, somehow they paid back Rs 25000 and got back Shameena’s Class 12 certificate from the college.
The authorities, however, refused to return other certificates submitted at the time of admission including that of many state and national athletic competitions.
Post this, many other colleges approached them with offers of admission. But without those certificates, none of it was possible.
For the past eight years, they are struggling to make both ends meet. Until last Wednesday, they were living in a shack covered by a tarpaulin on 10 cents of land donated by the Vellayamkudiyil Charitable Society.
But cyclone Ockhi had more in store for them. It destroyed the hut. Now their house is nothing but a debris of torn plastic sheets and asbestos.
Sharlin says that the only aim now is to have a reliable and secure house.
“Even at the time of starvation, we never sold our medals. If we get back the certificates, we will be able to look for other jobs,” says Sharlin.
“If the authorities had shown some mercy on us, we could have represented the country. Many were ready to give us admission, but the documents were a problem,” says Shemeena.
However, the college authorities rejected the allegations. “Shemeena studied in Assumption college for just two-and- a-half months. One day, Shemeena went missing from the college. Later, we came to know about Shemeena’s marriage with Sharlin. We informed Shemeena and her family and she could not continue in the college. We returned all certificates along with the TC. The argument that they returned the money is wrong,” said Jimmy Joseph, the physical education teacher of the college.