Picking Up The Threads

Picking Up The Threads

Rajeshwari, 50, shifted from her village in Chhapra in Bihar to Kapashera in Delhi, 15 years ago. The reason was simple. Her husband, an abusive alcoholic, wouldn’t find work in the village and, as a consequence, wreaked havoc on the family around him. To protect the children from his influence, the elders decided to separate the family. She shifted to the city with her husband, the kids stayed home with her mother.

Over the years, while her husband worked at a cotton mill, Rajeshwari took up a job as a tailor at a garment factory in Gurgaon. While he blew his pay on alcohol and gambling, the money she earned ran the two-person household. Three years ago when he passed away after suffering from complications due to alcohol abuse, she was left alone, responsible now not just for her own well being but also for her younger son’s education in the village. It wasn’t smooth sailing — not much is on a salary of Rs 10,400 as a migrant in a city — but it all soon got worse.

“In the first lockdown, the company closed its doors, and suddenly we couldn’t go to work” she says. “There was a real fear about the virus, but there was also a fear from the police who wouldn't even let us out to go get supplies. The company would give us Rs 2000 every month as compensation, and I won’t deny that was more than many others I know were getting…”

Devoid of a ration card (her ration card, with her son as a beneficiary, is registered in the village, where Rajeshwari thinks it will serve its purpose better), through the lockdowns Rajeshwari took on a lot of debt, just in an attempt to buy supplies for sustenance and survival. It compounded the severe debt she was already under, undertaken during her husband’s treatment. Her only platforms for aid were via civil society. SLD partnered with Oxfam India under Mission Sanjeevani to provide ration and safety kits to vulnerable families. 220 families of garment factory workers received food kits to last a family for at least a month.

Despite the easing of lockdowns and getting back to her job, Rajeshwari fears the future, unable to think about what will happen in the chance a third wave hits shore. “It’s like a time bomb strapped to our chests, ticking away,” she says. “The virus will never go away. But someone has to think about us, the people who have to live through it also," she signs out. 

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