CORONAVIRUS INDIA MigrantWORKERS 1585123996

Corona virus outbreak or the great COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world, the governments of the world, the people and of course a first year economic student as well. Living in this phase and going through all these days, feels like we are going to have enough stories to tell to our grandchildren and enough to boast about to our children. After all, we are saving the world. No matter how boring it seems today. The days are long and time available to deal with the pandemic and my pending assignments is less. Staying in our homes during this lockdown and doing all the tasks assigned to us both official (government is assigning in short intervals) and unofficial (household chores), but more important, along with the burden of making assignments and submitting them before the deadline is all that the story comprises of.

That is what you all think. It is so. However, still there is something more to it. Initially when COVID-19 did not become a pandemic, the times when we used to go to college, now that is a distant place with lots of barricades in between and of course a dream. My parents asked me just before the mid-sem break was about to begin to not to travel in metro and take an auto-rickshaw. I laughed off and followed their orders, except on the last day of college. Metro aah! Good memories. I loved the concept of this metro. Meet people, listen to their stories, sometimes playlists (music played loud in metros by some aunties), gossips, arguments on mobile phones (sadly, only one sided) and of course the “critical analysis” of several things, my friend and me, in the metro used to do. Now it has been a long time since I have been in a metro. Lockdown has shut all the public transport and our lives. We are in home now.

Home sweet home is now home sweet college and welcome to the bigg boss house. All the members are stuck, should not go out. We are getting tasks in some intervals of time by our government and mind you, these are official tasks so you have to perform. We are performing these tasks, enjoying them, as there is nothing else to do. That is what you think and it is so. However, there is more to it. We have some instagram challenges going on. They are also very important in these times of pandemic and we have to do them to save this world, until we develop a vaccine that could eliminate this corona virus. Sleep schedule is not even a “schedule” now. Some days I can sleep the whole day and other days I suffer from insomnia. Normal cold feels like corona virus has caught me and I test me for the next 14 days of any symptoms that reveal that corona has caught me. I am bored but not enough to complete my assignments and study materials given to me by the university.

Whatsapp University is reality now and we all made it to come to life. Zoom conferencing is the new trend. Since the university became online, zoom’s stocks have reached a new height. They are making a lot of money at a global level. Nevertheless, there is someone else making a lot of money is the atta chakki shop (flourmill) near my house. Daily, there is a huge crowd coming to buy flour. This is called panic buying because people feel that they won’t be able to get flour, which is one of the basic food items in north India, so they start buying it and in huge quantities so that they can store it for future. My research project that I was thinking for a long time to do would now definitely be on the “impact of COVID-19 on atta chakkis” as opposed to the “impact on gol gappas” (water balls). Gol gappawalas, surely, hit by this pandemic; but Indians have alternative solutions and they all became chefs during this time, making gol gappas and samosas in their own homes. While this is a story of a middle class student of economics but the student is doing her graduation in economics and minor one in political science. Therefore, the lower middle class, the below poverty line people and the migrants’ conditions are something on which my attention goes on straightway while we are getting another official task.

Looking at their videos and pictures might divert your attention towards them for some time and you may talk about them but seeing all those people in reality going back to their homes from a place, which considers them as “outsiders” and forgot all about their services, is shocking and a sight which gave me goose bumps. Entire families of seven to eight people along with their newborn kids and some of about the age of 5 to 6 years old, holding their parents hand and walking down the street, just made me feel that how blessed we are. We have our own homes so nobody can call us an “outsider”. We have food to eat and permanent jobs. However, our lives do depend on them who clean our houses and streets, who drop us to college when the pandemic was about to hit.

Are we doing enough for them? Certainly not. Is the “task giver” or “biggboss” these days providing anything to them? No. What needs to be done is not being done. We all are in it together but “we” here does not include them. We include only those who we see around us. Not those we do not or just catch a glimpse of them in newspapers, TVs and social media. While we are buying soaps, they are being sanitized with chemicals on road. While we are sitting at home and watching Netflix or may be a new series on Amazon Prime, they are pushed into a bus arranged for them to go home. Social distancing is not the correct word, because they are “socially” together and “physically” not distancing in those crowded buses. They want to stop the transmission of virus by only letting screening of people coming from abroad and taking into account their “physical distancing” but they do not want to screen rather they want to sanitize the people living in their same country whose services now they do not want because they have to “socially distance” themselves from them. Again, are we doing enough for them?
Standing in our balconies, lightening those diyas made me wonder are their lives are still dark or someone has lighten them up. I could not find an answer to this question but I could see some media channels calculating for how long and on which days the PM came to speak. Is this has to do something with how the pandemic is going to end or they are having fun among themselves so that people don’t ask them what’s happening to the people who left this place some ten days ago. I do not know. Earthquake struck twice, I got a lot of assignments to do and watching some hundred messages everyday on my phone when I wake up I just feel why not throw this phone out, but I can’t live without it and nobody’s going to repair it in these times. Our lives have not stopped. Our learning and education is still going on. Nevertheless, some are there whose live has been shook just as this earthquake shook us. There are children without wifi connectivity, mobile phones, and these days without education. It is easy for us to work and study from home.

Attending a webinar online and getting to interact with different people just made me realize that these times are just perfect to apply what I am learning in theory to practical life. The unit inflation, whose assignment I just completed last week, is the solution to this problem of fall in demand and supplies we are experiencing in these unprecedented times. Communal hatred, domestic violence with, both women and LGBTQ+ communities cannot remain separated even in these times. Watching Ramayana last night after so many days, made me realize that Kumbhakaran was a cool and intelligent man, he gave a lecture to Ravana on how a king should conduct himself and how he should think when he had some stupid and biased ministers in his kingdom and I just got some of my political science lectures done.

I used to wake at 5 am in January because I love the atmosphere around my home, so calm and peaceful. I did the same thing two days ago and was not feeling the same calmness. Now these silent roads and streets just stir the calm in my heart. They are no longer extraordinary rather “normal” now. Whether I wake up at 5 am or 9 am or maybe sit outside at 8pm it is all the same. I am missing my not so extraordinary but ordinary life these days. Hoping to see streets full of people again and completing my assignments soon. Till then go karuna go.

Aarushi is a first year student of Economics in Janki Devi Memorial College, Delhi University.


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One Comment

  1. Sheetal Grover says:

    Awesome thoughts jotted down in a wonderful manner. Actually need to ponder about the situation we are in, hopefully will get rid of it soon.Keep writing, keep people amused by your wonderful thoughts.
    Lots of wishes
    Sheetal Grover