20 September, 2020

Laboured March

NH-2, near Calcutta
Photo by Sandipan Chatterjee/Outlook
Laboured March
outlookindia.com
2020-04-03T18:29:27+05:30

Visualise this. A young man with a boyish moustache walks along an expressway leading out of Delhi, one arm wrapping a child barely a year old to his chest, the other clasping an oddly-rectangular jute bag. His wife, a thin, small-boned woman, walks along, gripping the hand of their other child as he tries to keep pace beside her, taking in the scenes around them blinkingly. She is holding a bag too; it contains a precious cargo of biscuits and water.

The man is a mason, fitting tiles to perfection in mansions. He has Rs 450 in his pocket. And nearly as many kilometres to cover to his destination—his village in Kanpur. Because of the lockdown in the wake of coronavirus spread, the roads to his livelihood are shut to him. His immediate savings will not last to feed four mouths for the next 20 days; he’s dimly sure of that. The one road is the road back—his village, he’s equally sure, holds the meagre promise of roti and salt.

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