“Can you waive rent for one month since we were all closed due to the lockdown?” shop keepers at a small commercial complex in Patukottai town of Tamil Nadu asked their landlord.
“You need not pay for the last three months since you did not have any business during that time,” came back the reply from 91-year-old T.K. Rathinam, a doctor by profession. His clinic operates out of his own building on Big Street, the commercial hub of the town. Also housed in the complex are six shops that fetch a rent of Rs 1.40 lakh every month, which means the doctor chose to sacrifice a total rent of Rs.4.20 lakhs, a substantial amount in these difficult times.
“My wife and I have enough for us. My son and daughter-in-law also earn from their medical practice and all of us live together. But these traders have had no income for three months. Why should I add to their financial strain? Three months of rent will not make a big dent in my income but it will be a huge relief for them,” explained the obstetrician, who has attended to over 65,000 deliveries during his decades of practice.
Even today, the doctor charges only Rs.10 as consulting fee, which inspired his son and daughter in law – both OBG specialists – to charge only Rs. 50 as fee. “His noble gesture of waiving rent for three months means I will have money to pay my children’s school fee when classes reopen for them. Otherwise, I would have had to borrow from someone,” observed Venkatesan, who runs a jewellery shop from the doctor’s complex.
The doctor’s selfless nature and national spirit was also on display during Indo-Chinese war when the Indian government urged its citizens to lend them their gold to buy arms. The doctor immediately donated 83 sovereigns of gold he had saved up for his daughters’ wedding. “The government kept its word and returned the jewels after five years,” he recalled.