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Pandemic from the eyes of a Villager

I am a city born and have lived in cities my entire life. I have stayed in cities like Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore and always had the best facilities that could be provided to a person. So, every time there was national wide concern, I always saw it from the point of view of city life. Whether it be natural calamities like cyclones or emergency situations like swine flu.
This time it was the worldwide pandemic covid 19. This time I got a chance to view this serious matter from the perspectives of people who have lived their entire life in a Village. Due to an unfortunate series of events my family had to travel back to my paternal grandparent's place. It's a small Village in Mayurbhanj.
My sister passed away in mid-April and her last wish was to go to our paternal grandparent’s place. So, we decided to cremate her there. We got special permission from the police and they allowed us to travel but before that we had to go through a lot of official formalities because of the Corona situation. While we were trying to catch our breath and make sense out of what just happened with us. We reached our village and the sight Infront of us was something I will never forget.
Through the car we saw more than 20 officials from the district headquarters including village doctor, nurses and BDO and many more were standing at the entrance of our village. They were standing there to inform us that we are not allowed to take the body inside of the village because we have a travel history now and even after the cremation is over. We were asked to stay in quarantine for 14 days. We thought these are the rules by the government and there is no way we can disobey it. So, we agreed to everything they asked us to do. Even though Deep down we knew that it would create problems in some funeral rituals.
After the cremation was done, we were taken to a quarantine house which is a local school. There were 3 more people in the quarantine house already living in the room next to us. Later, after talking to them we found out they were some daily wage workers who were working in the city. Since all the work was spotted in the city due to the Pandemic. They were asked to go back to their native places. Now the problem was that all the transport was stopped due to the Pandemic. How will they go home now? No way they could stay in the city with no food or money. So, they decided to walk around 400 km back home. It took them 5 days to reach the village. It was a die or die situation. Even if they would have lived back in the city. The increasing rate of Corona and staving would have killed him. Even walking all the way home was also a Risk for them but somehow, they made it to the village. This reminded me how I was in the city a few days before and I was complaining to my friends over the phone about how I was bored at home and had nothing to do. How I can't go to my favourite food joint to eat. This showed me the privilege I was living with.
While talking more about the situation. One of them quoted " the lockdown was the best we could do to save ourselves but a country like ours isn't ready to fight this". They continued to explain to us how because of their occupation being daily waged. They are left with very few savings and can't feed their entire family. They have farms to grow food but due to Pandemic they are not allowed work on the fields either. And how they are totally dependent on the government.
From what I had read from the official statement from the government. It was mentioned that " The government is approving different schemes for the betterment of below poverty people like free meals”. When we told the workers about it. They seemed Clueless of what we were talking about. So, my cousin who stays in the village told us about how the government is providing free meals for the poverty-stricken people of the village but after conducting the free meal for two days. On the second day some pictures were clicked as evidence that they are abiding by the government program. But sooner the next day the higher official, local party workers of political parties and even the sarpanch of the village had stopped the program and kept the dry food material to themselves and maybe resold them in the market. There was also some scheme by the government about giving out 2000 per person who are staying in quarantine to compensate their time in there but the higher authority of the village is keeping it to themselves. There were many more cases regarding the improper distribution of the resources. It makes me disgusted to see that in such a time of need and pandemic. The people in power are being corrupt instead of being the helping hand.

This showed how contrasting the life of a city and village is. We keep complaining about having to attend online classes and working from home. We have proper jobs and money out of it even in this Pandemic. We still have food on our plate and roof on our head. We city people are for seriously taking these things for granted. And Here people from rural areas are not even in the state to have a decent meal. God knows how many families are going to sleep in an empty stomach because of this corrupt and selfish behavior.
The night went by talking about the situation we are in and in our own mourning for the loss. The morning came soon with that the rumors flew too. First thing in the morning we heard was the people of the village asking us " Did she die due to corona? ". Here the fake news started flowing in. We were confused at first why would people think of it like that or who told them into making them think this. This was the moment everything started Making sense.
The lack of right information was the issue the entire time. The people Here in the village had very little knowledge about the Pandemic or what was happening around them in general. The reason why they weren't even able to stand up against what the higher authority was doing was because they didn't know who to reach out to or how to reach out. Half of the people residing here don't even know what schemes are being approved by the government for them. What facilities are available for them to access because the people who are in charge are the one corrupting them. Thanks to television and radio the villagers know the symptoms and preventions but no one knows how to deal with the stereotyping.

We the city people are living in these high walls completely unaware of the people beyond are. Who are these people and how they are living are none of concern? Unless you become part of them. While we complained about staying at home. They never complained about the pain they are going through because of this Pandemic. We got the quick medical facilities, food, shelter and everything but what about the people living in the rural areas.
"It is true that Corona is a deadly but our current situation is killing us anyways" Quoted by one of the workers.

-Durgesh Nandini Naik


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