Regulars who often lepak in SS15 might recognise Alagappan, the “Murukku Uncle” who has been selling snacks in Subang Jaya for the past 10 years.
The 45-year-old was originally a farmer in his hometown of Trichy, India. He came to Malaysia to work as he was not earning enough to support his family back home.
Subangites might recall the rojak and cendol stall on Jalan SS15/4 that would, in non-pandemic days, see long queues of customers. When the stall moved to a new location, Alagappan was not able to afford his share of the rent and had to take his business to the streets.
Back home, he has a wife and two children. “My son is 18-years-old, and my daughter is 8.”
Like many, Alagappan’s business has been affected by the MCO (or whatever its called now). “Before the pandemic I used to sell about 100 packets a day, but now I only sell about 30 packets on a good day,” he said.
Each packet of murukku is priced at RM2 and Alagappan aims to sell as many as he can, even if it means spending hours under the scorching Malaysian heat, or heavily pouring rain.
“It is very tiring but I have to keep going. I spend hours every day walking around,” he said.
Alagappan had planned to return home next year to resume working as a farmer, but his wife recently contracted Covid-19, and he has had to spend all his savings on her treatment in India.
“Her hospital bill has come up to the equivalent of RM18,000,” he shared.
It has been three years since he has been able to see his family. “I want to go back home but I must stay here and continue working to save up money again.”
Touched by his story, two Malaysians, Nicole Vijayakumar and Liren Cellvam, have started a campaign on Instagram to raise funds for Alagappan and his family. The details can be found on Instagram where netizens can donate to help out.
“His story kept playing in our minds, so we decided we had to do something,” Nicole said. “The money we collect is to help with his wife’s hospital bills, as well as for him to send home to his family.”
The donations will be handed over to him today, September 8.
“I have been seeing Mr Alagappan since my days in university. He is always so friendly,” Nicole recalled, adding that he is always cheerful even when he is tired after a long day’s work.
“We may not be able to do much, but we hope our efforts will not only ease his burden but also bring a smile to his face,” Liren added.
Do look out for Murukku Uncle if you are in SS15, Subang Jaya. To help Alagappan and his family, contributions can be made directly to Nicole Vijayakumar, Maybank account number 1624 0523 0018.