Reshma and her family comprising her husband and two children were among a group of 15 people who boarded a bus provided by the Uttar Pradesh government to take them to their home town to Sitapur. They reached their village Sanjarabad but landed at a quarantine centre where they were deprived of food, water and other necessities like facility to use toilet.
“Initially I thought it was a big mistake I had committed by leaving Lucknow. The life was a real hell there,” Reshma told this reporter.
Reshma works as a maid in colony in Lucknow while others work as menial labourers in different construction sites of the city. When the lockdown was announced people asked her not to come and as the construction sites were closed the male members too lost their livelihood. Then they decided to go to their village Sanjarabad in Sitapur district, 80 kms from Lucknow.
Om March 30 they reached their village and the same night they stayed at their home. As the news spread that people from outside have come and staying in village, the pradhan came and asked us to go and stay in primary school.
“For the first time in my life I heard the word quarantine from pradhan’s mouth. I never knew it could be that torturous. Initially, I thought it is like inspection centre which has been set up in Primary School building of our village. But when I faced the reality, it was a hell. Laga jaise narak mein aagaye”, she said.
She said that the pradhan refused to give us food. Toilet was there but it was locked with a padlock. The pradhan said that one member of the family should come and give them food maintaining social distance. There is no one in our house who could cook and give us food. We are not in talking terms with other members of the family. Our portion of the house remains locked when we are in Lucknow. So, there was no one to give us food,” she said.
One full day we passed without a morsel of food. When we could not bear the hunger any more, I sent my daughter to home to cook food for us, she said. “When Pradhan came to know about it he rebuked us and said have you come for a marriage that I should give you food,” said Reshma.
The government rule says that migrant workers should be given beddings and other facilities. “We brought our own bistara (bedding) from our home in village,” she said.
For next 10 days she and others stayed in quarantine. In the breakfast they got samosa or biscuit with tea, four puri and sabzi for lunch as well as for dinner. “We cannot ask for more puri because the person used to come put the bundle of puri and sabzi at the gate of the school and used to leave,” she said.
On April 10 a team of doctors came. They checked us and said we can go home now. That was a big reprieve, she said.
Reshma now lives in her village. The family has a small land hording. They have harvested their wheat crop. They have got their quota of ration and now they are content with the life.
“I want to forget my 10 days stay in quarantine. It was a hell,” she said.