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Migrant Workers On The Road Made Me Realise My Privilege – A Safe Home

Posted: April 1, 2020

I saw a line of migrant workers make their way to their homes, despite the lockdown. That’s when I realised the privilege I had- of living with my family.

As I stepped out for putting the clothes on the clothesline, I passed a casual look at the deserted Sohna Road. In that fraction of a second, something caught my attention. From my multi-storeyed condominium – stream of tiny beings walking.

Marching in unison, with nothing or a bundle of essentials sitting atop their head. With their small petite bodies, they looked like a colony of ants, marching for the home-run. And along with them smaller bobbing bodies.

The long walk they embarked on

The string seemed endless. I wondered in this lockdown, what on earth were they doing out on the road. When even birds are horror-struck at the dead silence of the urban spaces they flutter in.

Just then, I saw a WhatsApp message which explained, what I call the ‘Long march.’ They were the migrant daily wage workers, who in these times, were abandoned by their employers. And the tiny bobbing bodies were their famished, undernourished children. The kids flapped their slippers against the erupted volcano like streets of Gurgaon, following their parents.

Due to the uncertain and ambiguous nature of the current situation, they have nowhere to look for hope, except their hamlets. And sooner than I would have imagined, they were on the news. There were pictures of crowded bus terminals, sobbing families and other similar horrors.

However, humanity seemed to rise and several people put up kiosks of food and water for these poor souls treading back home. I feel these are the fearless people who brave the lockdown and walk the long distances to be with their loved ones. Wouldn’t it console them to see their parents, hear their children laugh and have the reassurance of their partners? My househelp told me about a friend of hers who walked three days to reach his village. Though he was quarantined, he feels safer now that he is at home.

We are privileged aren’t we?

It is time to thank our stars, that we are home, safe and secure. That we didn’t have to travel so many miles, just to have the comfort and safety of home. It may not be easy, being anchored at home, especially when most of us are always up and about.

In our own houses, we have no ‘me corner.’ And often, we can’t take peaceful work calls. In our own reigns we don’t know where the help kept the essential stuff. We don’t know how to talk to and what to talk about with our own families! And we have more gadgets in the house than people. In our private precincts, our eyes may pop out due to the excessive screen time. But at least, we are together.

This brings me to the smallest unit- our homes and families. Trying times are the bonding times. We are comforted, reassured, and relieved to see our loved ones safe and secure.

The calm roads are a sign that we should let them be like that

And until then, the roads are calm. The malls are sleeping. Markets are silent. Clubs are still. Schools are lull. But homes and hearths are buzzing with laughter, chatter and occasional silence. The balconies are the new DJ console and dance floor. Sometimes they even double up as bars. And all the dust laden board games can breathe some fresh air.

Husbands are cooking in the kitchen. Wives are mopping the floor. Children are making the beds. There is a satisfying calm in the house but there is stifled noise in this silence.

Evil witch, the Green Goblin or a mythological beast?

My daughter says we are caged like Rapunzel and Corona is the evil witch. But my son says it is like we are living a Hollywood Sci-fi and Corona is the Green Goblin. Both the analogies provide virtual entertainment to me. Lest, not to forget the mythological angle by the PM. Lockdown is as sacrosanct as the lakshaman rekha, of the Ramayana.

In the meantime, animals are having a Raahgirir moment. Civet cat was spotted on the now silent roads of Mumbai. Leopard like animal was spotted in the now lull Chandigarh.

As far Gurgaon, for my man and I, we are already at the climax of this virtual entertainment. We are unsure, uncertain, ambivalent and  precarious. Because, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.

Two weeks to the finale. Until then, be safe and stay within the lakshaman Rekha.

A version of this was earlier published here.

Picture credits: YouTube

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