Home, Hearts & Humanity!

COVID-19 has definitely taken a toll on all of our lives, be it our jobs, our daily routine or social activities. Whole country has come to standstill and facing huge loss in every sphere. But some losses can never be recovered and one of them is human life. Today, when the whole world is confronting this calamity, I find myself fortunate to have a permanent roof over my head, a proper nourishing meal twice a day, loving family beside me and access to all basic facilities like medicine and sanitisation. However inspite of having all sorts of privileges and conveniences around us, we find ourselves depressed and restrained and talk about mental health and psychological issues. We talk about how badly this virus has affected us! We feel miserable about not been able to visit restaurants, salons and malls. Have we ever thought how hopeless or suicidal will someone feel when he or she can’t even have the access to safe drinking water? When they see their children dying due to hunger? When they have to walk miles to reach their homes and face death every moment? Do we have any words to console them or justify their situation? Or do we have any better piece of psychological advice, so as to how they can cope up with hunger, death or their devastated mental status ?

I came across a video recently where a child is trying to wake up his mother lying on a railway platform, playfully tugging at a sheet partially covering his mother. He might be thinking his mother is sleeping peacefully; soon she will wake up, feed him, cuddle him and protect him. He is dependent on his mother for his survival but lesser he knows that his mother has been taken away, not by corona or any other deadly virus, but thirst, hunger and exhaustion. The 35-year-old migrant woman died of hunger and dehydration on May 25 when she was travelling to Muzaffarpur from Ahmedabad in a Shramik Special train. The video was heart wrenching and tears welled up in my eyes. The video of the child and his dead mother is one of the most tragic visual evidence of what the migrants are undergoing amid the lockdown imposed due to the Coronavirus spread.

Thousands of migrant workers suddenly found themselves without any source of income when India announced a lockdown on 24 March. Overnight, the cities they had helped build and run seemed to have turned their backs on them; the trains and buses, which should have carried them home safely, got suspended. So with the imminent fear of hunger men, women and children were forced to begin long grueling journeys back to their villages by trains, buses, trucks, auto rickshaws, pick-up vans and bicycles. For many, walking was the only option. Some travelled for a few hundred kilometers, while others covered more than a thousand to go home. Young children and pregnant females were also forced to walk, bearing all the pain and exertion. While some reached their destination, many never made it. They lost their lives to road accidents, hunger, dehydration and exhaustion.

A massive exodus of migrant workers is on in several parts of the country. The humanitarian crisis unfolding on highways, roads and railway platforms has thrown light on disconcerting tales of poor families walking hundreds of miles with little children on foot in a constant march to escape hunger. People have been found travelling on trucks and in the hollow concrete mixing plants, and in many cases, dying from hunger and fatigue before reaching their homes. The only question that comes to my mind whenever I come across any such incidence is ‘Who is to blame for such callous situations and is accusing the only solution we are left with?’ My purpose to write this blog is not to blame anyone, be it the government, system, or migrants themselves, but to awaken our own conscience and morality. To stir people and make them see these cruel realities. To make them realize that beneath our world of luxuries and comforts, such gut wrenching veracities exist, which we often ignore or don’t pay attention to. It’s very easy to blame the government or system for doing nothing or for not taking enough measures. It’s easy to say migrants are stupid enough to walk on foot and inviting their deaths. It’s much easier to put entire blame on god and tag such situations as natural catastrophes. And not to mention, it’s easiest to sit on our couches in an air-conditioned room, watch headlines and feel bad for what’s happening around. What these deprived and innocent people are going through is something we can’t even imagine. While we blame circumstances and people around us for everything, these people are struggling to survive. While lockdown has given us an opportunity to spend time with our families and cook delicacies, these people are losing everything they have. Right from their jobs and income to their children and families, they have incurred nothing but unrecoverable losses.

Usually, the journeys of migrants are nothing but expressions born of experiences, of an immense landscape of poverty and deprivation, which shoves them to cities in search of livelihood. But their migration from cities in current situation is a rejection of the moral vacuity that defines our state and society today. It’s a mirror to our selfish state of mind, which the coronavirus pandemic has merely exposed. We do fight for stray dogs and turn vegans to save cattle, but we let our fellow humans remain homeless in our enormous cities. We simply don’t care about anyone and anything around us. All we ever care about is our job, our income, our wealth and our family. In this rat race of life, we disremembered to give, to include, to empathize, to enable, and to take our communities along. We forgot how these people whom we are criticizing today contributed once to make our life what it is. If not for these thousands of providers, who would we be today and where would we have been? How would we work, eat, commute, live and prosper?

As humans we have to include our community, these people in our everyday lives. We have to take the responsibility for every single person who empowers and uplifts our lives. We just cannot see urban migration as a policy problem that offers sidewalks as homes and toilets to millions of our fellow souls. While we have nudged our way into the community and found our voice and power, the latter still remains on the edge, powerless and alone. The least we can do as humans is to be empathetic and kind towards them. It’s wrong and totally unscrupulous to think they deserve such horrible deaths.

Let us not only stop ourselves at donations and charity. Let us find a way to amalgamate these people into places they have come for an improved life, so they can call it home. So they won’t be asked to pick up and leave ever again.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rakesh shrivastava says:

    Very nicely expressed views…one would have not imagined that within few days situation will turn like this…we all belong to society and it is our duty to provide basic privileges to every one…this self realization may change situation…it is really very painful about those who have suffered during this crisis…and that is still continue..


    1. RUPS says:

      True papa!! Self realisation is the key


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