From their home in Bibwewadi, four sisters of a family are fighting coronavirus (COVID-19) on two frontlines — the hospital and the street. Two are in the police force and two are nurses. “There is a high chance that one or all of us will get infected. That’s the nature of our job. To protect the rest of our family, we have sent our parents and our younger brother to our village in Satara. What pained me most was sending my two children — nine-year-old son and two-year-old daughter — away with them,” says the eldest sister, who is aged 27 and is a police naik. She does not want her family’s identity to be published.
Her husband is in the Army and posted in Mathura and she was staying with her children, parents and siblings. For almost two months, she has interacted with her children only on WhatsApp. “My daughter is too young to understand what is happening, so I have asked my relatives in the village to send me videos of her. I watch her skipping and playing in the videos and I don’t know when I will hold my children again. But this is the time that the country needs healthcare officials and law-keepers, so we are on duty,” she says.
Hand sanitisers are scattered throughout the house, the buckets are always full of water, and gloves, masks and socks are stacked and handy. “Earlier, we thought that eating healthy was enough to build immunity. Now, we make sure we take multivitamin tablets and protein powder. In case we fall ill, we want our bodies to be strong enough to fight back,” she adds.
Her duty ranges from handling paperwork in office to enforcing the lockdown on the street and ensuring people providing essential services have smooth passage. Their father worked at a mill in Mumbai that closed down and he then relocated with his family to Pune, where he was running a kirana shop.
“While my sisters in the police are working mornings and evenings, the nurses in the family have no fixed time. Our shift may end early morning or late in the afternoon,” says the sister who works at a COVID-19 ward, where close to 70 patients have been referred to by Naidu Hospital. She is responsible for giving them their food and tablets and checking their vitals, among other duties.
“We have a system in hospital, where food is brought by a separate team and there is contactless delivery to us, who serve it to the patients,” she adds.
One of the sisters, who works as a nurse, has been skinny since childhood and her parents asked her to take leave during the pandemic. “She isn’t even a permanent member of the staff but she refused to stay away. She assured us that she would take precautions to stay safe but would not quit during an emergency,” she says.
The policewoman adds that “the educated and uneducated classes” were equally guilty of violating lockdown rules. “They should stay home for the sake of the elderly and children in their families,” adds the police naik. After work, on the occasions when the sisters meet for dinner, they turn on the television.
“We opt for an entertaining film and turn to news afterwards for updates on the coronavirus situation,” says one of the sisters.
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