Yahiya had to wait in vain outside a bank for two days together to get Rs 23,000 exchanged, all of which were in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes
In the Mahabharata, Draupadi refused to tie her hair until she took revenge on the Kauravas.
A native of Kollam, Yahiya runs a small hotel in Mukkunnam in the district. Like many in the country who have been affected following Modi’s demonetisation announcement, Yahiya was forced to burn his life savings after failing to get the devalued notes exchanged at the bank.
A Facebook post by Ashraf Kadakkal, an assistant professor at the University of Kerala, narrates Yahiya’s ordeal that left him with Rs 23,000 worth notes reduced to ashes and a half-shaven head.
According to the post, Yahiya had to wait in vain outside a bank for two days together to get Rs 23,000 exchanged, all of which were in Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Fed up with this, he decided to resort to a novel way of protesting against Modi’s decision.
“Kind people promptly took me to a hospital the second day, when I almost collapsed after my sugar level went down following standing in the queue for hours together. How long should I stand in a queue before I can exchange my hard-earned money? After returning from the hospital, I burned all the notes, went to a barber shop nearby, and shaved off half of whatever was left off my receding hairline,” reads the post.
Yahiya, who does not have any other bank accounts under his name apart from a loan account at a cooperative bank, has now vowed to let his hair grow back only when Modi gets voted out of power.
“This is my promise as well as my protest,” he says.
An illiterate, Yahiya couldn’t make a living even after going to the Gulf in search of a job many years ago. It was after he returned home that he started the small hotel in Kollam, where “he does everything from cooking to serving.” Interestingly, Yahiya finds comfort in wearing a nightie while at work.
Taking a dig at Modi, Yahiya says, “From early in the morning to late in the night, I serve delicious chicken fry and beef to customers, who also tolerate my weirdness. If I had done this in Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh, they would have hung me by now.”