Indira Nagar slum: Struggles continue but life goes on

Credits- Keerthi Krishna

Keerthi Krishna and Nima

At Indira Nagar slum near Chennai Central, 38-year-old Kodishwari was busy with her daily work of selling tea to commuters driving on Gandhi Nagar road in the city. 

 Her son, Parthiban stood near the counter, which is almost equal to the height of their house. The roof of the house could be seen while standing in front of the stall. 

 Life at Indira Nagar was not easy for Kodishwari who had to support the family and share the small concrete hut with her brother Anbarasan who is working as a painter. She said she lost her husband to alcohol addiction and brain damage. 

 Kodishwari said that it was difficult to make a decent living with a husband who was struggling with alcohol addiction and a son struggling with paralysis. “I had to start working so that I could give my son a better future than keeping him in this slum,” she said. 

 She moved to Indira Nagar with her parents from Tindivanam in search of jobs more than 20 years ago.  

 43 year old Nagoor M, a devout Christian, lives with her mother Rani (65) in the slum.  Her parents, originally from Kadapakkam near Pondicherry, moved to Chennai after marriage in search of livelihood. 

Nagoor decided to stay unmarried after her father’s death to look after her mother. “I have no livelihood now” she laments, as her log selling business has been on a downward spiral ever since people from the area upgraded to gas stove facilities. This decline in income forced Nagoor to take loans unofficially from lenders, which in turn, has led her to stack up a debt of Rs 2 lakh, a sum she can not afford to pay now or in the foreseeable future. .

The Indira Nagar slum area was lively during the peak hours of the day; the place filled mostly with small food stalls run by women while children watched their mothers work.