Much has been written about the COVID-19 pandemic, about the people who have been affected, who have had their livelihoods taken away from them, who have been displaced, those who have been left in the lurch and so on.
Is it enough? I don’t think so
For we, as a species, must know how to learn from our mistakes. How to look past them and grow, and work for the betterment of not only mankind, but the entire planet and all that it represents.
How can we learn, how do we? Through assimilating information, distributing it, organizing it. So that, somehow, somewhere, it reaches that one person in the society who will be able to do something about it.
Hence, we write. Through writing, we assimilate and organize information, that can eventually be distributed, and can be used in some way or other for the welfare of – all.
So today, I wish to narrate the story of a local vendor in my neighbourhood – Tulsipur, Cuttack. This vendor has a job – to sell his wares, ranging from hair clips and plastic toys for children to condiments, spices, pickles and papad, so that he can eke out a living for his small family.
Mr. Girisa Chandra Dehuri has been selling his wares every day, in the sun and in the rain, at the famous Cuttack Chandi Mandir, for the past 20 years. Business was okay, and he managed to earn enough to eke out a livelihood and educate his daughter at Sambalpur University.
While his son honed his skills at the Government ITI, his daughter began working as an accountant at a goldsmith’s shop simultaneously training to be a stenographer at the High Court.
That was life before COVID-19 hit.
Ever since the country went into a lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Girisa’s life has become topsy-turvy. First of all, his business got temporarily closed. He couldn’t sell his wares anymore.
At the time of the lockdown, Girisa’s son was home, having arrived for a holiday from his job. Obviously, he could not return and is now out of a job.
Eventually, his daughter lost her job as an accountant, as the lockdown continued for more than 2 months. Whatever little savings the family had, was used up in surviving till the end of the lockdown.
Nowadays, with lockdowns being imposed sometimes, but markets mostly remaining open for a fixed number of hours, Girisa can venture out to sell his wares.
“Earlier, I used to sit beside the Chandi Mandir at my cart, and people used to buy things from me. Now, I have to carry my wares on my bicycle to different localities so that I might have some sales.
As everybody is afraid to buy things from various places and are sticking only to known shops, my sales have decreased immensely. Nowadays I manage to sell just 25% of what I used to sell earlier, let alone the profits from my business,” Girisa told me.
As the society changes, so does the living pattern of those who struggle to stay afloat. Girisa now sells more of spices and condiments, snacks, pickles, papad and Puja samagri than his plastic toys and hair accessories.
“I decided to roam around on my bicycle to sell food stuff, as this is the only thing which is necessary and hence people will always buy. Achara and pampada are common favourites, but if somebody has run out of spices while cooking, they also look to buy it from me,” he told me.
On being asked about his grievances (if any), he told me that he is happy that at least his entire family is together. “If my family is safe, I can handle all my other problems,” he beamed.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s lives. Every single person on the planet has been affected by it.
All that we can do is stand together with our compatriots, our near and dear ones, our friends, and most importantly, our COMMUNITY. Our immediate surroundings, which nurture us, sustain us and inevitably become a part of our identity in the world.
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