When my thoughts and prayers were with them…..Lockdown 2.0 was on its start and I was just going through the news to know what was happening around, all regional, national and international channels downpouring the news of the spread of Corona and its global impact. No mood to have a further deep thought and tuned to the laughter show of Kapil Sharma, this time he too failed miserably to change my mood. Perhaps residing in an area that was falling in a Red zone might have created some sort of dullness and fear. Yet again got back the news channel which was telecasting the live visuals of the migrant labourers revolting against the local police in a Metro city to allow them to go to their native states even by walk.
I recalled my journey to Chennai in February by Howarh-Madras Mail this year escorting my daughter to attend PI and WAT for admission to IIMs through CAT examination. It was an unplanned and hectic journey and thanks to my brother who could arrange Sleeper tickets under the Emergency quota in such short notice. It was 9th Feb, we boarded the train, the red-faced my little cute uncomfortably settled down in her berth. She was experiencing for the first time a journey by a sleeper class and cursed me for not putting efforts for securing a berth in AC III-tier and I too was feeling little guilty for the trouble caused to her. The so-called reserved compartments packed up with many passengers standing around and the prose - 'The journey by train' by J B Priestly looked to be true in all spirits. Thus the day journey was quite boring as the people surrounding us appeared to be rural masses.
When the clock struck 9 PM, all berth holders started slowly to go to sleep and the TTE asked all others to get out of the compartment and RAC passengers to adjust themselves with no chance of confirmation of the berths but in vain. All of them tried to adjust and sleep by sitting at the open space for passage or between the Lower berths. One pair - wife and husband sought permission to use the space between my berth and my opposite one. While conversing, they revealed that they including all such passengers in the train that day were daily laborers working in a Real Estate company at Chennai and all of them were returning to their workplace from various places of Srikakulam district in Andhra after spending Sankranti holidays. The lady told that they have a son and left him with his grandparents for studies. Their daily income together would be around one thousand per day which would be much more than they would earn if they live in their native place.She said they were comfortable with shelter provided by their owner wherever he undertakes the Real estate work and their life is doing well. They would again return to Dussera to see their kid, she added. Both of them fell into a deep sleep, my daughter resting on the Middle berth was listening to music using earphones; seriously looking at me in between as a sign of her anger for talking to them. Yes, I couldn't sleep for two reasons - uncomfortable in such an environment and the other one, the pathetic story of the daily labourers moving to such far off places for their earning and to meet their daily needs. They too paid the same amount of mine but wait-listed, yet they were comfortable with the kind provision of space to them and felt happy. See the difference between the haves and haven't. The next day morning we reached Chennai and I was quite puzzled to see the huge number of passengers who happened to be the friends and colleagues of my co-passengers. We reached our Guest House nearer to the Marina beach and my daughter happily enjoyed the environment and settled down.
The scenes came to my mind in different layers when the migrant labourers started walking from Chennai too as I glanced at the news clippings from that region. Perhaps the man and the lady too would be there. Yes, not to rescue themselves from the violent Corona but more worried about their son and their parents. When she said they would return home on the eve of Dussehra, she would never ever have thought of the early coming of Dusserah, of course, me too!
My prayers are with them and hope they reached their home and living happily with their near and dear!
An entry for the a thread a day challenge contest