When my country (and the world) is going through tough times of COVID-19 I have the luxury to stay at home — apparently because all my physiological and safety needs are fulfilled anyways. Right from my home in Lucknow while sitting on the balcony I see a settlement of poor people. Unlike me, they don’t have proper homes. I have the privilege of Home Quarantining myself in luxury apartment, but they don’t. When my university — which is in Ahmedabad — got closed amidst COVID-19, going back to my hometown — Lucknow — in a flight was blasé. Whenever university gets closed for a long time it is very common for me (and many students) to go back home. But in my country, is that the case with everyone? Absolutely no!
When I read news about a migrant laborer stealing someone’s cycle to travel hundreds of kilometers to reach home and leaving an apology note for doing so. I felt guilty for owning a bicycle that I seldom use and also felt guilty for being oblivious for the fact that I am at home. When I talk to my friends on the phone and discuss the last show they binged on Netflix, some migrant laborers die on the way home — with hunger , being crushed by trains , or in police brutality.
In my hometown — Lucknow — two children of migrant laborers lost their parents to an accident, because the family was cycling all the way to Chattisgarh (a different state of India). The aforementioned incidents are not seldom, there are many others! For instance, just this morning I woke up to the news that 24 migrant workers got crushed and died in a road accident on the way to home.
I feel guilty because my privilege makes it very difficult for me to relate with them. I feel guilty of not thinking about them when my university got closed and when the lockdown was announced. But it also makes me question those in power whose job is to think about every citizen of the country!