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‘Work is Worship’: The amazing story of Uppai chettan who walked through six decades

The man introduced the villagers to the realm of news and reading, fondly called by them ‘Uppai Chettan or Uppai Mappila’. Uppai Chetan alias E O Ouseph hails from Vaikom in the Kottayam district of Kerala. He started his journey in this field sixty-four years ago.

There was a time when people eagerly waited for him to get the newspaper. Unlike others who used to ride bicycles and eventually two-wheelers, Uppaichettan used to walk to and from home to deliver newspapers. He always has bundles of newspapers with him as he walks along the Vaikom-Vechur road. Thus he became well-known among the people. Even at the age of 84, Uppaichettan comments, walking is the key to his health.

Initial Days

Uppai Chetan began his newspaper-distributing job on the twelfth of August, 1958. He distributed almost all newspapers of Kerala from Malabar Mail, Deenabandhu, up to Malayala Manorama, and Mathrubhumi. From the initial days onwards, he woke up at three in the morning and went to the nearby post office to collect the newspapers. He returned in the afternoon after distributing the newspapers throughout the village. He could only read the newspaper after that.

Uppai Chettan: Still going strong at the age of 84.

E O Ouseph Alias Uppai Mappila

Not many people know the name E.O.Ouseph. He is popularly known as Uppai Mappila. On the way back, he would drink tea from a tea shop in Puthanpalam. The Proprietor of the tea shop wrote the name of the cartoon character ‘Uppai Mappila’ instead of his name in the account book for fun. From then on, he became the Uppai Mapila of that village.


He lost his mother when he was two and a half years old and his father when he was twenty-one. Uppai took care of his sisters. They earned their living by doing small jobs and making mats made of screw pine leaves. That income was not enough for them, so he started doing newspaper distribution. He got one and a half rupees as his initial salary.

He had experienced a lot of hardships. Since he did not know how to ride a bicycle, he used to walk for one and a half hour from Ullala to Vaikom to get the newspaper.Back then,the houses were quite far apart. There were a few roads as well. During the rainy season, when the water level rose, the newspaper was tied around the head and delivered to homes by swimming up to the neck in the water. He had to struggle alone to get his five sisters married.

uppai Chettan with Family


Uppai chettan married Tresya when he was twenty-seven, following the marriage of his sisters. He was assisted in the newspaper distribution by all six of his children. In the 2010 Thathtangadi bus crash, which claimed the lives of 11 people, he lost his 36-year-old son. His daughter-in-law and two children are living with them.

Rural Journalism

In addition to decades of newspaper distribution, Uppai chettan experimented with rural journalism. He included local news and events in his reports. According to Uppai chettan, today’s youngsters don’t read much. Older people are interested in newspapers. People who stare at their phones don’t have time to read.The desire to relax came only at the age of 84.

Even in this leisure life, he gets adequate care from the villagers. The villagers organised a ceremony to honour him and a documentary was made on his life.


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