“I used to earn 25,000 rupees per month and now it has gone down to 2,000 rupees, how can I support my family now?” said Harinder Paswan.
He was working on a piece of land in Gundha, Uttar Pradesh when the lockdown was announced. He would work overtime to earn for his family but when the lockdown was announced, he was unable to send them money and slowly his own savings got over as well.
At this point, he knew that going back to his village was the only option, not just because he didn’t have any money left but also because his family needed money to survive.
After completing an arduous journey, Harinder reached his village Jogappati and immediately went to the government quarantine centre. He was asked to stay there for fourteen days, and he was more than willing to because he didn’t want to risk spreading the infection his family members.
He got food twice a day but there was a water shortage; four days went by without water and every day when the government officials would come, the inmates would ask for water. When four days passed, they all made a commotion in a desperate bid to get water. “The officials beat me up, they twisted my arm and it is still hurting. But it was all worth it because at the end of it all I got to drink water” said Harinder.
Harinder believed that coming back to the village would solve all his problems but after coming back, he saw that there were no employment opportunities in the village. He had to support his parents, kids, wife and even relatives at times.
With an income of less than 2,000 rupees per month, this was not possible so he made a visit to the local moneylender. “I have taken loans at high-interest rates but what option do I have? If I don’t, my family will die hungry and now that I have, the interest is growing and the money is over and I have no idea how I will ever be able to pay it back.”
In spite of having faced such hardships, Harinder said he doesn’t want to go back. “I don’t blame anyone but there is so much uncertainty that I don’t think going back would be the right decision. My only hope is that the government creates employment opportunities so that we can be close to our families in the time of a crisis like this and at the same time earn enough to live a stable life.”