Kaam milega toh karungi, varna ghar hi baithna padega

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Tunu migrated from Kolkata several years back. She now lives in  Harijan Basti, a colony of domestic workers in Gurgaon with her husband and two children. Like most other women in her locality she works as a domestic worker in a housing society nearby. Her husband used to work as a labourer in a cement factory. Both lost their employment due to the lockdown.

“Tu thoda halaat sambhalne de”, her employer told her on her last day at work, assuring her that she will be called back. The RWA (Residents’ Welfare Association) of her society has currently prohibited the entry of domestic workers on the premises.

Tunu is waiting for Ramadan to get over before she begins her search for new places to work. Earlier she worked in four houses but currently none of them are willing to call her back.

She adds, “Milega toh karungi varna  ghar hi  baithna padega.” Recalling her experience from the previous lockdown when she went back to Kolkata, where she couldn’t find work throughout the year she adds, “Main waapas jaakar aur phas jati hoon – yahaan kaam dhoond lungi 12 ghante yaa 24 ghante ka. Vahan toh vo bhi nahi milta, isliye jaane ka faisla chod diya hai.”

She feels some relief knowing her situation is slightly better than those around her. At least she has some ration, she says. But she is anxious for the time when  she will run out of supplies.

“Baad mein pata nahi ki kya karoongi. Khaane peene ki dikkat ho jayegi, agar lamba chala toh. Bahut mushkil ho jayegi,” she adds.

While she hopes that the circumstances will gradually improve, she worries what will happen to her family if the situation persists. She adds, “Kya karein mushkil ka saamna toh karna hi padega”.

This story is a part of MFF’s Lockdown Stories series, which consist of everyday lived  experiences of domestic workers in the COVID-19 Second Wave. There’s no data around the needs and experiences of domestic workers in this fight against the coronavirus. MFF along with its partner networks is attempting to bridge this gap. Join us in advocating for change and ensuring protection for domestic workers through prioritised vaccinations, relief package distribution and all other benefits being extended to frontline workers

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