CONTINUED FROM - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 20 of Lockdown
17 April 2020
Anti-muslim sentiments are growing day by day. Social media is filled with posts on how Muslims should be kept away as they are supposedly spreading the virus intentionally. A vegetable vendor I spoke to other day was suspicious of a Muslim man trying to sell her some potatoes for a wholesale rate. After he left, she told me that one has to avoid speaking to Muslims. When I asked her why, she had no answer but instead told me that that’s what people are saying. Sugreev and Upendar on the other hand, also told me the same. "This disease is spreading because of Muslims." They watch local news and get most of their information on WhatsApp and youtube where such rumours are freely floating around. What is shocking is that, even some of the popular media houses in the country are spreading hatred and fake news.
Other day, Sugreev and his friends ran out of cooking gas. The cylinder refill station was closed, therefore, they were considering to cook using firewood. I asked them if I could prepare some rice for them real quick. They declined my offer as they did not want to trouble me anymore. My wife normally stores the coconut shells which come handy for construction workers who use them as fuel for cooking. We decided to give a sac of shells to them. One of the men helped Upendar with Mundan (Shaving of head when there is a death of close family member).
While speaking to Sugreev, I learnt that he has four children. He tells me that in his village people get married very early, around the age of 20 or 22. In fact, he tells me that child marriages are still practiced in most villages though the girl moves to her in-law's house only after she turns 16. I asked him why he chose to travel and work here instead of staying back home and farming. "Are you paid better here?", I asked. He told me that they get almost similar wages in their village. But the only difference was job opportunity. There is more construction work happening in the cities than in his village or a small towns close by. Also, people there are okay with say, single coat of paint, while here, people are conscious of quality. More days they spend working, the more they earn. On the contrary, if they do not work, they don’t earn and therefore they can’t afford a meal.
Migrant workers all over the country are facing such issues. Thousands of migrant workers in Surat, Gujarat staged a protest other day requesting Government to allow them to return to their respective villages. On the 14th of April, our Prime Minister announced that the nation-wide lockdown will be extended till the 3rd of May. This promoted a protest by migrant workers in Bandra, Mumbai.
Of course, with no work or income, they are unable to feed themselves. Additionally, they are also worried about the condition they are living in currently. Psychologically, they are suffering from home sickness, which tends to aggravate in such difficult times.
A Tamilian woman who sells vegetables near my house is finding it difficult as well. She tells me that she gets the vegetables from Electronic city (Which is around 15km away). There are no buyers and the vegetables go stale as days pass by. She is left with no choice but to sell them at a much lesser price than intended. She even offered me some vegetbales for free. As always, I bought extra to share with Sugriv and his friends.
With the lockdown extended, things will only worsen for them. One can only hope that right measures are taken to ease their problems and that things would soon get back to normal.
Well, here is what has been happening with our pets. Blacky, our apartment dog, is badly injured as it got bit by some stray dogs. Our watchman who takes care of the dog, got him vaccinated. To prevent Blacky from licking the wound, he requested me to get a mask and a spray for the wound, which I did. By the way, the kittens are doing great. After almost a week, they have now opened their eyes.
CONTINUED HERE - COVID-19 Diaries - Day 34 of Lockdown