UP: the daily bet reaches 600 km home just in time to see the birth of your baby
NEW DELHI: There was panic in the air when talking about a pandemic, his job was probably gone as was the roof over his head, but he didn't let his spirit get discouraged when he left Delhi for his village, more than 600km away, determined to be home to see their baby born.
There were no trains and few buses to get to in the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh from Rajouri Garden, where he worked as a day laborer, but he got there.
It was March 28, Saturday, when he went to his house, 650 km away. The national blockade to reduce the spread of Covid-19 began after the Prime Minister Narendra Modi The March 24 announcement and all roads home seemed blocked.
But where there is a will there is a way, and Maurya, 22, who came home on Sunday night, found it.
It took many hours of walking, several more hours of waiting, and three exhausting and very busy bus rides, with social distancing, distant and random thinking.
I arrived just in time. My wife was in labor pain when I arrived in our village and we had to quickly arrange an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Maurya, now the proud father of a baby, told PTI over the phone.
I could manage to be there with my wife when my son was born, he added, the three days of stress and the arduous journey home are apparently a distant memory.
The young man, who was earning around Rs 8,000 a month as a daily salaried worker at Rajouri Garden in west Delhi, erecting tents and pandals for weddings and other events, said he waited for three days from Wednesday to Friday for the situation will improve and to find some way to go.
When it didn't, he simply packed his belongings in a backpack and started walking, joining the exodus of thousands of migrant workers returning home without food, without work, and without savings.
Several hours after the walk, he said, they were told that the Uttar Pradesh government would administer bus services on Saturday from Anand Vihar in eastern Delhi to transport stranded migrant workers.
Despite the threat of coronavirus infection, he joined the crowd of workers to find a place on the bus on Saturday night. In what was the start of 20 hours of bus travel, with passengers packed like sardines, the Uttar Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) bus took him to Sitapur for the first time.
There, he waited five hours for another bus to Lucknow. From Lucknow, he took a private bus to his village in Musafirkhana.
It was expensive, costing him Rs 1,200, but it was worth every rupee, he said. He finally managed to reach his town on Sunday night. Hours later, on Monday morning around 11 a.m., his wife gave birth to a baby, which he says has yet to be identified.
Maurya, who has worked in Delhi for more than a decade, since he was a young child, is safe with his family, which also includes his parents, three brothers who work as brick kiln workers and a younger sister.
Life is hard. Her parents cultivate her two bighas (about an acre) of land and also work as laborers in neighboring fields.
The challenges are many, he said.
After the closing, his contractor told him there would be no work for at least the next few days and maybe longer. He was also receiving frantic phone calls from his family, his concerns compounded by the coronavirus outbreak in the national capital.
There was a lot of stress. He had no job and received constant calls from home to return. Initially, there was no transportation, so I decided to walk like others. Then on Saturday, channels began showing the news that the Uttar Pradesh government had started bus services from Anand Vihar, making the trip easier, he said.
The tensions are over, but only for the moment.
His wife is in the hospital with the baby while he is locked up at home. But that is a small concern.
It is the most important questions that they pursue, he has to start earning a living again and return to Delhi, but he does not know how or when.
When asked when he would return to the national capital, he replied that as soon as this (coronavirus) crisis is over. But when will that be?
A question to which no one has an answer. MIN MIN 04041845 NNNN