On the night of March 24, 2020, the government issued a sudden but straightforward order: India and its 1.4 billion citizens will be fully shut down due to the coronavirus in four hours.
The world’s second-most populated nation came to a halt as the clock struck midnight, isolating everyone in their homes.
Thousands of people lost their jobs in the days that followed, wreaking havoc on the economy. The already stressed health-care system was put under even more pressure. Inequalities in society surfaced, dragging millions more into poverty.
India’s 68-day curfew was one of the most stringent in the world, and it remained in effect in some form for months before being lifted. India has had 11.6 million cases and more than 160,000 deaths since the pandemic started.
The repercussions of the lockdown can still be seen a year later. Some people brushed it off and resumed their lives as normal. Many people, on the other hand, had their lives drastically altered.
First, Neelesh Deepak had to watch his food run out. The actor then became unable to pay his rent in his New Delhi apartment. He returned to his parents’ home in Madhubani, a village in eastern Bihar, due to a lack of funds.
He tried to deal with his alienation from work, coworkers, and friends there. Things had deteriorated when he returned to the Indian capital in October. The majority of theaters were shut down, and those that attempted to reopen failed to re-enter the public eye. Shows were canceled indefinitely, and tens of thousands of coworkers were laid off.
Without a job during the pandemic, the 40-year-old started to feel anxious. Deepak started seeing a therapist after a friend committed suicide and was prescribed medicine. He started to accept the heartbreaking reality that he would have a difficult time making a living outside of the theatre.
This went on for months until he decided to work as a researcher for a charitable organization. His monthly income fell from $500 to $600 to a little more than $150. He can’t even afford to buy food.
He explained, “My family is barely alive.” “My fear of the lockdown hasn’t gone away.” I don’t believe it will ever leave me.”
WORKERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
When Nirbhay Yadav, 50, and his 25-year-old son were unexpectedly laid off due to the lockdown, they became part of India’s largest exodus in modern history: 10 million people started fleeing the cities for the countryside.
Yadav and his son fled New Delhi for Banda, a village in central Uttar Pradesh, fearing starvation. In an exhausting and harrowing trip, they marched 600 kilometers (372 miles) in the scorching sun along highways.
When they arrived in Banda with blistered feet, the villagers refused to let them in for fear of contracting the virus. A 14-day quarantine was placed on the father and son.
Many of those who left the cities, however, did not survive, with some dying in car crashes and others succumbing to fatigue, dehydration, or hunger.
“I pray to God that such days never come again,” Yadav said.
The lockdown drained Yadav’s savings over the next few months, forcing him to postpone the weddings of his two daughters, which he had planned for years. He was heartbroken as a result of it.
Some food was delivered by local nonprofit organizations, but it quickly ran out. The state government promised to give every family of migrant workers the equivalent of $13.80 per month for six months, but Yadav never received it.
He returned to New Delhi after 11 months, where things were no better. He can no longer find jobs, except for a single day. He’s cutting back on his meals and sleeping under a highway overpass.
He said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” “I believe I will never return to this city.”
THE HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
Kavita Sherawat, who performed coronavirus tests on patients, wore masks and washed her hands often.
Despite this, the 30-year-old health-care worker, as well as her husband, parents, and in-laws, became contaminated. Her 4-year-old son was the only one who stayed away. But that’s because she’d avoided seeing him in person for several weeks.
She explained, “I couldn’t even feed my son during those months.” “It bothered me.”
She considered leaving her job because she felt she was neglecting her parental responsibilities. Yet she persisted, despite the fact that the rest of her family shied away from her.
During the lockdown, doctors and nurses were hailed as heroes, but people avoided her out of fear of infection. She tested thousands of sick and gasping patients in hospitals, unsure whether she was properly covered.
“Fear transforms you as a human. You begin to value your life more,” she explained. “Those early days continue to terrify me.”
THE MODEL OF TRANSGENDER TRANSGENDER TRANSGENDER TRANSGENDER TRANSGENDER
Tashi Singh described it as the most difficult decision she had ever taken. She chose the lockdown as the process.
She had known for years that she was “a woman stuck in a man’s body,” according to the 21-year-old.
She wanted to tell her parents that she was a woman, that she liked makeup, and that she had always wanted to be a model.
Singh, on the other hand, said she lacked the confidence to do so. Before the lockdown, that is.
They were unsupportive and aggressive when she told them. It wasn’t long before she was engulfed in a cycle of violence.
“I wanted to flee, but where would I have gone?” she wondered. “The whole country was shut down,” she explained.
New problems arose as a result of the violence at home. She was confined to her room for several days. Her hair was shaved by her father. She said that when she tried to flee, he tracked her down and beat her in front of her neighbors.
She managed to flee a few days later, but she struggled to find a place to live and earn a living. A trans model couldn’t find work. It was difficult to obtain sex hormone medications.
“The lockdown taught me how to live,” she said from her shared apartment with six other trans women. “However, I suppose it was a blessing in disguise.”