At home after years, migrants eagerly waiting for Raksha Bandhan amid Covid-19 gloom
Ajay Pal, a migrant labourer who returned from Mumbai to his village in Pratapgarh due to Covid-19 lockdown in early May, is happy.
“This Raksha Bandhan, it will be exactly 12 years since my sister tied rakhi on my wrist. All these years I had been away,” said Pal, who is eagerly waiting for Raksha Bandhan.
Pal, who worked as a mechanic in Mumbai, is using this time to meet the members of his extended family and relatives and replenish the old ties which he overlooked while working in Mumbai.
“I left home when I was 18. That was the last time I got rakhi tied by my sister. I have got this opportunity again this time,” said Pal.
He is third born among four children. Pal is two years younger to Rupa, the only sister among three brothers. Rupa was married two years after Pal left for Mumbai in search of work. He met Rupa on several occasions in the meantime, but never on Raksha Bandhan.
“I use to visit my village only during Diwali or Holi. I use to speak to my sister on phone on rakhi but never thought of visiting her on the day. I think I should have come every year just for few days around rakhi, after all she is our only sister,” said Pal.
As the day gets closer, Pal has started keeping a close watch on the notices of lockdown issued by the government.
“The house of my sister is some 15 kilometres away from here. It will be difficult for me if lockdown is declared due to rising Covid-19 cases. In that case I will have to think of some other way but I have made up my mind to meet my sister on rakhi which is on August 3 this year,” asserted Ajay adding that his younger brother will also accompany him.
Another migrant worker, Dinesh Verma, 36, in Prayagraj district is also looking forward to meeting his sisters on Raksha Bandhan.
“I will meet my sisters after five years on this Raksha Bandhan day. Though they used to post me rakhi every year, getting it tied by them will be special,” Verma said.
Both his sisters, Divya and Madhuri, are married in the same district some 20 kilometres away from his house. Verma has asked his wife to prepare some sweets at home which he would take as a gift to their house on rakhi.
“I use to send money for my sisters on rakhi in the past years but don’t have much to give this time. My wife will prepare something that I will take along with me,” said Verma, who worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Nagpur before Covid-19 pandemic hit.
He lost his job and returned home on one of the Shramik special trains. He now helps his father on the farms. “Like me there are many migrant workers who will meet their sisters after a long time on this festival, which has come as a brief glimmer in these gloomy times,” said Verma.