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When ration kits became family treasures.

By Niswaan community member.

(with translation from Hindi to English)

I was busy reading a book and I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t even realize the heat of March month.  In my reading when both the lovers were about to meet, I could hear the noises outside that there is going to be LOCKDOWN from the next day.  I heard the noises outside and just decided to ignore them by engrossing again in reading my book again.  The commotion increased so much outside that I had to leave the book on the study table and went to my window to witness what is happening outside.  I saw people running from here to there and vice versa.  While watching this I immediately made a poetry which is as follows

Yeh Joh afara tafri ka mahul hai bhai 
hume bhi batao yaro jana kahan hai

I stepped down to do a reality check on this news and I asked one man where is everyone running? Where are you going? He replied saying that he is going to the grocery shop to get groceries for two months and he advised me to do the same as well.  I too panicked and thought of going to get groceries for home but then stopped to actually think what is the reason for this home arrest.  After thinking for some more time and pressing my mind hard I remembered reading news in the month of December 2019 and this news was going like fire everywhere that there is a virus spreading from Yuhan city in China to the entire world.  This virus is dangerous as more and more people are getting infected and many people have lost their lives due to this virus.  Many people are hospitalised and fighting this dangerous virus.  I have even heard that this is a man-made virus that is developed by China itself.  

With the fear in my mind to I searched for my wallet so that I can also go to the market to get some basic supplies organised for my house.  We know our government well enough to just impose some new law anytime soon.  I forgot about reading my book, about my love characters from the book and their future instead I got worried about the crisis and the lockdown.  I could just think of basic essentials, my job, why, and how could China do this to the world, and many more questions hitting in my mind.  When I opened my wallet I could barely find some crumpled currency notes in which I was sure I won’t be able to buy groceries for the coming months instead decided to buy whatever I could for basic survival hoping that life will be easier as soon as my office/work start.  I decided to buy some rice, atta, sugar and whatever else I can.  This is a difficult time and going to be even more difficult don’t know till how long though.

I searched my house and manage to collate some decent amount to buy supplies for the coming months. I thought searching money was difficult but when I reached the shop I saw a sea of people screaming shouting from all sides of the shop so that they can manage to buy supplies.

I was scared but hopeful that I too have to wave through this sea of people as I wasn’t alone and had to get the supplies for my senior citizen parents, younger brother-sister too

I approached the shopkeeper to buy groceries but was aghast to know the prices of the groceries which had shot up thanks to the lockdown news which had created panic among everyone.  With the money I had, I managed to buy cooking oil and some basic items of survival. 

I spent some days in happiness till the stuff was available at home, managed to spend time with my parents, play with my siblings but I knew this is going to change soon and felt burdened about my own life locked in my own house.  Our containers were getting emptied and we could see things worsening soon.  Mom by sensing this one afternoon gave me a gold necklace hiding it from my dad so that I could sell the same and get money for day to day survival.  I knew mom had made this necklace with difficulty for my marriage and this was an extremely difficult decision for her.  Day to day survival was important than keeping a gold necklace in the safe for my marriage. I took the necklace and as I took it all the jeweller shop started coming to my mind with the closed shop pictures flashing in the background due to lockdown due to which I returned the necklace to my mother and went back to the kitchen to finish my cooking. 

I boiled some rice and dal which I gave to my siblings which they ate quietly without even questioning I guess time teaches everyone, especially kids grows up soon.  They finished eating without any complaints.

With the news coming around daily about the number of people dying due to the COVID19 I was sure we would die of starvation but there are good samaritans in the society still.  I had heard that food packets and ration is being distributed in the communities.  I decided to go find help for ourselves even though everyone was saying Stay Home Stay Safe but the fire in the stomach and no cash in the wallet made me venture out in search of food.  I too like many others started waiting in lines for hours for one packet of the cooked meal or at times a few packets of meals.  This journey wasn’t easy too as wherever I stood in line they would distribute to the people whom they knew personally or through a reference. I was like any other bystander so at times and for a few days I didn’t manage any packet of food.  The day I managed I could feel the smell of the food and while feeling the food I had tears in my eyes.  I was in a dilemma whether these were happiness or sadness tears but somehow I managed myself as was leaving the place when I heard some of the bystanders saying that there is this centre in Darul Falah building which is distributing ration kits to the families in need.  I had given my name and number at several places but in vain so I kind of ignored this piece of information and went home straight.  My hopes were already shattered by following with many places for help.  Again the next day when I went to get a food packet I was in a dilemma whether I should go to the centre to give my name and number for help.  My mind was saying no and my heart was saying yes.  with lot of contemplation I decided to follow my heart and go the centre but like other places they too gave a reason of not being able to help as they were helping the women and girls who are associated with their centre first and if they have extra they would help others too.

When I was leaving one of the staff their noticed the food packet in my hand and asked what is in my hand. I wanted to say that this is my family treasure but I said it is a khichdi packet. they heard started shooting questions at me like where do I stay, what do I do, who all at home, what work does family members do, etc, etc.  They could sense my truth and my life story in my answers that they finally decided to give me a ration kit.  I was so overwhelmed that they would have felt the same in my gratitude to them. 

I again started loving my life and was so happy that the lockdown will open soon.  I will be joining my office soon and life will be becoming normal soon.  We were in the last week of June, the lockdown was easing, and things were opening for a certain time, on certain days and at certain places.  In all this I was trying to search for another job as the job I had was not mine anymore.  The cases of infection were increasing.  While searching for a job with a lot of hindrance and fear in my mind one of the shopkeepers decided to give me a job but was offering a very low salary as I guess he was helpless too like me.  I accepted the job and had only completed three days of work again the news of started surfacing oh lord is this illness or web series that it is not ending only.  Now we are in July, the hero heroine of my book story met but there was no solace in my life. My happiness my peace was getting lost day by day in this lockdown. 

Presently all the time I keep praying that this lockdown ends as soon as possible I and all the people around the world can lead peaceful life only if this pandemic crisis ends.  I would like to end with the poetry that I remember reading somewhere someday.

Laya Gaya Mehkama Khudkhushi Tak Hame 
Phir Fatwa Lagaya Gaya Marna Haram Hai