Here is an excerpt from a piece written by me, a winning entry at the Royal Common Wealth Essay Competition, 2021. The news of a grade 11 girl from Maharashtra, who committed suicide, because she could not avail to procure a smart phone or device to manage her online classes, is the reason i created this fictitious account of her best friend, narrating this harrowing tale and its repercussions 30 years henceforth. It is a narrative on how the disadvantaged groups were irreversibly further marginalised in the aftermath of the pandemic in a complex socio economic fabric.
Then they announced in the news one day-
The pandemic is gripping us,
No school from today.
For months and months, we heard nothing from our school.
How will we study? There was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Then after some time, we heard about classes going online.
The hope of a restart was destroyed before it even germinated
Where will we get the phones or gadgets? Where will we get the connections?
The virus thwarted our existence
In the tiny scuffled house where I stayed
No quaint corner to study
Or keep any infection at bay.”
“Back in those days, our community thrived on handicrafts
But no one buys them these days, said the NGO people.
The nation is reeling under a lockdown to flatten the curve
But here, the bellies flattened and hunger lurked, with no way to meet ends.”
“These commodities are non essential,
People are suffering everywhere,
The weekend fairs did not happen the same way.
The NGO’s could not help any which way.”
“My mother, an artisan, lost her livelihood too.
The specimens of her craft languished away.
Still trying to make her ends meet, she found a new job,
A ragpicker for Covid medical waste at the town’s medical lab.”
“Now years have passed and we won over the pandemic,
Our enemy was small, microscopic and unfamiliar,
Yet the enemies which tear us apart till date, have been hitherto known to mankind.
Did we choose to fight the war for everyone? Did we fight for peace?”
The forces which tear us apart,
Are still staring us in the face
Where is inclusivity, justice and resilience?
No, they are not elusive or lead a nano existence, still recovery is still a long way.