Balancing between chores and work-from-home for a month now, professionals seem exhausted to the bone. And for some of the caregivers, who earn on daily basis, life has suddenly taken a bleak turn, with no earning and uncertainty looming large.
Gynaecologist Queene Aditya has turned into a one-man army, looking after her 82-year-old bedridden father, 77-year-old ailing mother as well as her 11-year-old daughter. “Life’s so difficult without my father’s caregivers. Even the help is not here. All the chores, my kid’s online classes, stocking up on provisions and my patients: I seem to be juggling too many things at the same time. My mother is trying her best to help. But how long can we go on like this?” she said. Aditya has to visit hospitals as well as attend to patients through tele-consultation from home. “Some patients need to be checked in person. Deliveries can’t wait. I am still attending to them, though a few doctors in the neighbourhood have tested positive for Covid-19. After returning from hospital, I bathe several times if I am going out for more than one emergency,” she said.
The person being missed the most right now is the help, said NSE stockbroker Manish Dalmia. “Even as we are trying to adjust ourselves to the new normal, everyone’s patience is running out. With no domestic help around, the do-it-yourself routine has been leading to much blame game. The children don’t want to pick up each other’s utensils, the husband and wife are trying to pass the buck, demanding their own me-time or free hours,” the work-from-home father of two schoolkids said. For the Dalmias, the extra tablet that had been lying unutilized has suddenly become a life-saver as they need to log into three devices simultaneously.
Even Aditya finds it harrowing, managing her daughter’s online classes, helping her log in and then, switching from laptop to phone when the WiFi goes off. “Lockdown depression is common. I feel myself slipping into it,” she said. She sings old Hindi numbers to drive away the blues.
Another harried mom is Sushma Sahai, associate professor of geography at Loreto College. “With the news of the pandemic spreading like wild fire, I found myself among a dozen people in a serpentine queue outside the local medicine shop, praying to be lucky enough to buy surgical masks and sanitizers. More than a month into the lockdown, I feel the same anxiety. With senior citizens and a child at home, we are always on the edge, especially about stocks.” She has converted her bedroom into a virtual classroom and spends more than half a day on the laptop, either conducting classes on several online platforms or helping her teenage daughter with her unending list of assignments. “And mind you, there’s no help at home,” Sahai said.
Life on the other hand has come to a virtual standstill for those very people without whom some families have been finding it difficult to manage. Kamduni resident Durga Mondal, who works as a caregiver for an elderly woman in Salt Lake, said, “If I don’t die of coronavirus, I will die of hunger. I used to get paid on a daily basis. But since March 25, I have not been able to go to my workplace and haven’t earned a rupee. My savings are running out. If the lockdown is extended, I won’t be able to feed my family.” Mondal is diabetic. “There’s no money to buy medicines either,” she said. But some are luckier. Kalpana Dey of Shahid Smriti Colony on EM Bypass said, “I am okay. When Modi announced janata curfew, Boudi (her employer) gave me the full month’s pay of Rs 5,000 in advance. Next week, I will go and get this month’s salary.”
Source: Times of India