Mamta and Vikas, a married couple who came to Harijan Basti in Gurgaon five years ago from Bihar, took up work in the same household as cooks. After last year’s lockdown, life was just getting back on track for them, when the cities across the country were plunged into lockdown conditions once again, confining people to their homes.
Both Mamta and Vikas have lost their jobs. They are forced to sit at home, unemployed and have been denied their pay in full for the month of April, as well.
With little to no savings and no source of income, Vikas and Mamta are feeding their children mashed bananas as they cannot afford milk. Their main source of worry is caring for their two daughters, one aged one and a half years and the other just seven months old. The family is quickly running out of supplies and don’t have more to feed their children.
“Ek time ka poora hojaata hai bas, fir thoda kam zaada karke bhi chala leti hun… Hum log ka itna dikkat nai hai, zaada dikkat bachon hai,” says Mamta. Last year during the lockdown, one of Mamta’s employers gave her she got ₹6000 to support her family. This time around the employer has moved homes, so there’s no such relief.
“Baccho ke liye darr rahe hain”, says Vikas, while his daughter wails in the background.
Fearful of getting infected with COVID, they’re not considering returning to their village. The trains are crowded and unsafe, they say. “Gaon jaaungi toh zaada takleef hoga, vaha kya khilau? Gaon mein toh aur kuchh nai hai,” says Mamta. The two are getting by with great difficulty in this lockdown. Someone has given them sanitizers and cloth masks. They try to stay inside as much as possible.
Both Vikas and Mamta are hoping that the situation will improve soon. Playing with their daughters and seeing them smile keeps them going, says Vikas.
On being asked about why they haven’t been vaccinated yet, Vikas says that they are being charged ₹250 for the vaccine which they cannot afford. “Yahan zeher khane ke paise nahi hain, tika kahan se lagvayenge”, he says..
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.