Veeramuthu Kalimuthu, the 5-foot-5, 150-pound hero

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, all names and nationalities. Sometimes they’re named Jeremy Hernandez,Kalimuthu
sometimes they’re named Glen Pearson, and sometimes they’re named Veeramuthu Kalimuthu.

Veeramuthu Kalimuthu — or Kali – is a mechanic at Columbia University.
His recent actions make him a hero in the truest sense of the word. And
if not for someone else coming forward to tell his story, the public
would never know what he did on March 14.

At around 5 p.m. that day he headed to the downtown No. 1 train at 116th Street in Morningside Heights to go home to Jamaica.

"I heard everybody was screaming, you know, and everybody was running in different direction," Kalimuthu said.

A man had fallen onto the tracks from the opposite platform, all the way on the other side of the station.

were getting their cell phones out trying to call the police,
somebody’s got to help him and then I looked over and I saw the
gentlemen Kali jump down, hop over the rails," said witness Ed
Dijoseph, who brought Kali’s story to CBS 2 HD. [Link]

This is what heroes do. While other people are getting on their cell phones or searching for someone else to help, heroes jump into action, without thinking much about their own safety. "Someone’s in trouble — I gotta help," they say to themselves, showing the same enthusiasm many of us show at work: "Someone’s brought donuts — I gotta eat!"

Kali made it
across three sets of tracks, and knew about the three third rails,
which are electrified with 600 volts — enough to push a 400-ton train.

"I was jumping from one over one rail, to over the next rail, over the next rail until I get to him," Kali said.

getting to the man was hard enough, but once he got to him he had to
deal with the fact that the victim was a good 30-40 pounds heavier than
he was. Kali is just 5-foot-5 and 150 pounds. Add to that the fact that
at 5 p.m. rush hour trains come through that section of track every
three minutes.

"He was trying to lift the guy up, but he was struggling because the guy who fell was bigger than him," Dijoseph said.

With the help of someone on the platform, Kali hoisted the guy up.

think within a minute after he got the man up the train heading Uptown
came by," Dijoseph said. "If Kali hadn’t moved him I truly … I really
believe that the train would’ve killed him."

The hero then jumped across the tracks again, back to his platform and his train home to his wife and two children. [Link]

I wonder what he told his kids.

Child: "What did you do today, Daddy?"

Kali: "Oh, not much. Repaired a van, ordered a fan, and rescued a man."

Child: "Stop kidding around, Daddy. You’re just a mechanic. We know you don’t have any fans."

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. Melvin, I have been a silent fan of your columns for about 3 years now.
    Kali is a true hero! May God bless him & his family.

  2. Bless Yap says:

    To those who ask where God is: God is present in a person like Kali. That’s when you say, “God is so good all the time! All the time God is good!”

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