21 persons live in a 600 sq feet house

5 families live under one tiny roof in Manjeshwar

At a time of nuclear families and burgeoning old age care homes, a joint family led by Ramanatha, an aged person, at Udayanagar government housing colony, Kunjathur in Mancheswar gram panchayat limit is an aberration. Ramanatha's joint family consists of 5 families with a total of 21 members, all in a 600 square feet tile roofed house in a four cent of land. Ramanatha, his four younger brothers: Madhava, Chandappa, Gangadara, Chanchalaksha, their wives and children add up to the members of this household. Five men, five women and 11 children (5 girls and 6 boys).

While 62-year-old Ramanatha is the eldest in the family, 6-year-old Ganesha, son of Gangadara, is the youngest in the family.

Interestingly, three years ago, the same house had 32 members with their sisters, Pushpa and Savithri along with their families. Since both sisters got government land adjacent to their home, they built houses on it and moved to new premises.

“We five men in the family eke out living by making flower garlands and selling. Every morning, flowers will be brought from Mangalore and we will make the garlands at home itself. Then, we roam around till Uppala to sell the flower garlands,” Ramanatha told Deccan Herald. Meanwhile, the women contribute their bit to the family income by rolling beedis at leisure.

Queue in front of bathroom

Since the 21 members home has only one bathroom and toilet, Ramanatha says that at mornings there would be a big queue in front of the toilet and bathroom to get through.”

As all the 11 children are studying, at every morning there will be a hustling,” he says.
Family administration

The big family has got an interesting administrative set up to run without hassles. Though Ramanatha is the eldest, the SSLC educated Gangadara is the decision maker of the entire family.

“Every earning member will handover his or her daily income to Gangadara.

Gangadara will keep the family accounts and look after the purchase and the needs of all. If any one wants some money, say Rs 10, for any personal purpose, Gangadara should be asked and have to tell the need also,” explains Madhava.

If any important decision has to be taken, all members will assemble inside the house at night and have discussion. Every year, on the occasion of Deepavali, brothers will come to Mangalore for shopping, once in a year only.

Among the family system, there is no individual shirts, dhotis or sarees.

 “In normal case, we need 5 kg of rice daily and if go for fish, at least Rs 150 should be needed, that too for any common items,” quips Madhava.

He added that not even once they all went out together in the last 41 years ever since they started living under one roof. “Never we locked our house. Always someone will be there,” Madhava nods.

Thus, this is a unique house which has not locked once in the last 41 years.

APL category

Though the family is economically backward, according to the Ration Card issued by Kerala government, they are above poverty level.

“Instead of treating as five families, officials count us as a single family and summed up every one's income and put us in APL list,” rues Ramanatha.

He alleged that no help has come in the way so far from the government except allotting them 5 cent of land way back in 1972.

Aren't you thinking of seperating as you have a huge family? Pat comes the reply from Ramanatha:

“We want to shift as separate families like others. But we don't have the money. And if shifted, that must be in adjacent areas only,” he insists. Ramanatha takes pride saying that never once an altercation took place in his family and would be more than happy to see that the blood bond remained intact in future too.

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