Those who have adequate money in hand have gone into "home quarantine" to save themselves along with their children from coronavirus. They have stocked essentials, including rice, lentils, edible oil, meat and fish in their homes.
All of them along with their family members will be safe with sufficient stocks of sanitisers. Their children will be hale and hearty.
A female helping hand does all the chores in my home since I have settled in a house on the Buriganga riverbank at Keraniganj. Her name is Rabbana. She is the eldest daughter of my cook friend Gani. I get to see her once a week, Friday, the weekly day-off. On other days, she follows the directives I leave for her in a chit. The key of my house remains with her. This shows that Rabbana can read and write a little. But I am not sure how far the environment in her small rented house is conducive to preventing coronavirus. Even then she came to my house today, Friday. She cooked according to my wishes.
After taking a heavy shower, I had those items for my lunch with satisfaction. I am not sure whether I will catch coronavirus and what I should now do to prevent myself from being infected by the deadly virus. Should I dispense with her services now? If I do that for my own sake, her income will shrink. She gets Tk2,300 from me every month. She spends the amount on the education of her two sons – one is an HSC examinee and the other is in class nine. If I sack her from the job, then how will she meet the educational expenses of her sons?
All tea stalls in the country have been closed to keep social distance --- because tea stalls are still the main medium for adda and exchange of social information in Bangladesh. So to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the government has done a good job by closing down tea stalls.
However, I have a very close friend at Keraniganj. We call him Moni. He runs a small tea stall from which he earns about Tk700 per day. He meets the expenses of his three-member family with that income. It also covers the educational expenses (including coaching fees) of his only son. On Friday morning when I went to the tea stall on my bicycle, I found the shutters of the shop down. Later, I came to know from his neighbours that the "Choukidar" of the local union parishad had made an "elan" that all tea stalls in the area would have to close.
Another friend of mine lives at Char Washpur. His name is Khalil. He is a mason by profession. His work has come to a stop due to an unannounced "lockdown". But he has to manage food for at least four persons every day. His two children – a son and a daughter –study in school and madrasa. How does Khalil now manage food for his family?
Does the government know how the families of hundreds of people like Rabbana, Moni and Khalil are going about their lives amid the unannounced lockdown? All of them are workers in the informal sector whose work is not recognised in the economy. They do not have lobbyists like the BGMEA and the BKMEA. Then what will happen to them?
I know nothing will come their way. They will survive through struggle –they will remain unfed, half-fed.
Long live struggle