Battered Bodies

As this covid-19 pandemic has created a huge disaster in our country the poor class and migrant workers are the sections which are suffering a lot and are being victims to extreme poverty, hunger and deaths. They are left unemployed with no earnings and don’t have a single penny to feed their families. Half of them died of hunger which became the worst part and some are crying to get back to their homes but have no transport facilities so they have started to walk miles together to reach their homes.

Some children died of hunger and their parents carried their bodies all way to their hometown which left everybody in tears.Across the country, there are men and women with swollen feet. At a quarantine Centre in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, there is 17-year-old Baliram Kumar, who had walked from Bangalore over 25 days.

He had left in a group of 15, many of whom got faint and nauseous on the way. The journey turned them into nocturnal creatures. “We walked from 3am to 10am and rested during the day,” he said.

At another quarantine center in the village school, this time in Bihar’s Katihar district, there is 20-year-old Vinod Yadav. By the time he reached his village, in the sweltering late-May heat, it had been 27 days since he left Bangalore. Part of this journey was made on foot. When the heat grew unbearable during the day, they rested for four or five hours. Otherwise, they walked – all day and all night.

“I got a fever two or three times,” he said. “I would buy medicines from the villages we were passing through and keep going. Sometimes, we rested in the villages for a day or two.”

Their only shelter was the shade of trees. For food, they had carried Sattu, a mix of ground pulses and cereals, which did not need cooking, just some water and salt. They also had some ground chickpeas, eaten with salt, chili and turmeric. “If we found any shops open, we would eat there,” said Yadav.

They were left without protection against the virus. Most faced hunger or homelessness if they could not work. Vinod Yadav, who did plaster work for houses in Bangalore, had not been paid in weeks when he decided to walk. “We came back crying,” he said. Before lockdown, Kumar had made Rs 300 a day painting houses but now even this meagre income was choked off.