It has been more than a month since 31-year-old Om Prakash was rendered jobless. Prakash, who used to drive an auto before the lockdown was imposed, is now clueless about what the future holds for him.To find some familiarity, he now wishes to move back to his native village in Rampur Uttar Pradesh, from where he had migrated to Panchkula in mid-2015, looking for a better standard of life.
After finding a job as an auto driver in Panchkula and renting a small house in Majri village, Om Prakash had found it fit to call his children and wife to the new city in 2017. But not having earned a penny in the past few weeks has put a dent in his resolve to live a better life.
“I am a metric pass from the UP Board and wanted my family to have a better life than I did. My three children study in a government school in Panchkula, while I drive an auto and my wife works at home. When the shutdown began, we thought it would not last but we were wrong”, he said.
Back in UP where his four brothers still live with their family, he said, “Things are better than here, at least they have each other. We also have a small piece of land there. If I return, I can figure out what to do for work later. Maybe I can get a better job than driving an auto as I am a little literate”, he shrugged.
Prakash had hired an auto from a relative, who had himself bought the auto on installments. “I don’t think we will be permitted to drive autos again anytime soon and I also doubt if I will be able to keep myself at a safe from the disease if I drive an auto. I can work as a daily wager, but even that option has been lost with most options for labour remaining shut”, he added.
On better days, Om Prakash would earn somewhere from Rs 400-500 daily. His three children, aged between 10 to 6, now play at home, the rent of which he cannot afford. Being unable to afford food, they rely on food donated by some NGO. The family does not even a ration card and he has been forced to loan food from his landlord and local grocers. The fear of returning the favour now keeps him awake at night.
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