Salute, Warrior!

“You have been a true warrior, beta. When everyone around us refused to help, you were the only one! Salute, warrior! ”

“You have been a true warrior, beta. When everyone around us refused to help, you were the only one! Salute, warrior! ”

Tutun sat beside the frail woman, waiting for her to wake up. It had been a tough fight. If he had not reached on time, he would have lost her. The reason of the collapse was starvation – the much-dreaded word.

Tutun was a delivery boy with the gas agency. He lived in the village, two hours away from the city. A day of absence meant no delivery of cylinders. A day of absence also meant no wages. Encumbered with a large family, the steady income ensured a smooth life.

Every Morning

Every morning, he and his friends boarded the local train and set out for the city. The ride was exciting as the men took turns in regaling each other with funny stories. The satisfaction of catering to his consumers, mostly elderly, was immense. The elderly members, who lived alone, counted him as one of their own.

The Lockdown

However, the sudden announcement of the lockdown changed his life radically. “There is a virus which is killing people,” informed his friend. “We should stop going to the city.”

Bhai, isn’t poverty and hunger deadlier?” Tutun had asked.

The situation looked bleak. Trains had stopped. Buses were not plying. How would he reach the city? A week later, he managed to strike a deal with a broker. He and his friends would climb atop a vehicle, which commuted to the city daily ferrying goods. A payment of rupees two hundred daily would ensure the ride. They agreed.

It was dark when Tutun woke up. A hand stretched out to restrain him. He turned around. “No Laali, I have to go.” Before leaving, he cast one last glance at his sleeping wife and the children who slept unaware of the nightmare unfolding miles away in the city.

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Drastic change

He reached the City of Joy. It had undergone a drastic change. The roads lay deserted. The shops remained shut. Not a single individual ventured out. It was a stark scene of hopelessness and fear. He thought of the elderly couple he delivered gas. The octogenarian couple had always stood by him. He remembered how he had turned up drenched one evening. Mashima had given away her son’s clothes to him despite his protests.

He decided to check on them. His calls went unanswered.

The Couple

Gas cylinders had been declared an essential commodity. The vendors were permitted to drop them off. That was his ruse. He found the society in which the couple lived, heavily barricaded. “Too many positive cases,” the policeman informed him. He rang the bell twice. No reply. Panicking, he sought the help of the police officer. The door was broken down. The couple lay unconscious. Emergency admission followed. Tutun hung around them.

A sudden movement woke up Tutun. Mashima was trying to move her hand. Grasping them in his hands, Tutun broke down. A frail hand ruffled the young man’s hair. “You have been a true warrior, beta. When everyone around us refused to help, you were the only one! Salute, warrior! ”

(NOTE: Based on the life of the vendor, Tutun, who makes it to the city everyday and delivers gas cylinders)

Image Source: Pexels

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About the Author

S Sen

Sreemati Sen holds a Masters in Social Work from Visva Bharati, Shantiniketan. She is a Development Professional, specialised in Psychiatric care of Differently Abled Children. That hasn’t stopped her from exploring other fields. Years read more...

46 Posts | 180,690 Views

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