By Friday, M S Ansari (60) ran out of money. He checked his wallet a few times, looked under the pillow, tried to find some cash in old boxes in his rented house but there was no money to even buy a loaf of bread. Ansari has been an autorickshaw driver for 30 years in the capital, and lives in the rented house in East Delhi’s Mandawali with eight family members, including two teething grandchildren.
On Saturday, a photo taken by ANI of Ansari, with tears in his eyes and a mask around his face, with a caption that said that he was unable to provide for his family, went viral on Twitter. By Saturday night, AAP’s Dilip Pandey had rushed to him with dry ration — rice, dal, onions, potatoes and masala — while a group of civilians raised Rs 60,000 for him in under two hours. On Sunday, 27-year-old Ankit Gupta, who runs the handle ‘Kisse Kahaniyaan’, handed over the money to Ansari.
The family survived on stored ration at home for the first 12 days of the lockdown. Once that was over, Ansari found out about food being given to the needy outside a school in Preet Vihar, over a kilometre away from his house. “The idea of standing in a queue with utensils for free food broke my father’s heart. He was ashamed of it. He has been a hardworking man his whole life and suddenly he had to stand in a line for food. He would leave home at 6 am and return around 1 pm, with food for barely four people,” said Haleema Khatoon (29), Ansari’s daughter.
Before the lockdown, Ansari earned Rs 17,000-18,000 a month, and used that to pay house rent and a hefty monthly loan for the auto he purchased three years ago. When his son and son-in-law moved to Kashmir to work as labourers, he became the sole breadwinner of his family. “I would stand in the food line with a pateela and return home with so little food that we would sleep hungry. I have seen bad days. I have been unable to pay auto loan installments some months too, but it has never been this bad. I am grateful to all those who have helped. We have ration for 10 days now and money. I am touched,” said Ansari.
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