Name: Deepak Munda and Rakesh Prasad
Hometown: Khakhra, Ramgarh, Jharkhand
Occupation: L&T Pipeline Work
Returned from: Bengaluru
Deepak Munda and Rakesh Prasad arrived in Bengaluru before the lockdown was declared. Rakesh had given his 10th-grade examination prior to his departure from Khakhra, Ramgarh, Jharkhand along with Deepak; he quit his job since there was a debt to pay. The two worked at Larsen & Toubro conducting the movement of pipelines. Since the lockdown, Deepak and Rakesh waited two and a half months before being able to safely return home.
Interviewer: What was the urgency to leave right after your examination?
Deepak Munda & Rakesh Prasad: I(Deepak) have studied till class 10th. I was tutoring two subjects; English and Maths to children in 10th-grade or younger. I had thirty students, each paying Rs. 200. My earnings in a month would not cover all house expenses and contribute to the repayment of the loan. My father contributes Rs. 6,000, and the house income is Rs. 10,000. Besides, there are additional expenses; I have two sisters in school, the education expenses are not easy either. There was no work here or the minimum compensation was not close to satisfactory. I had hoped to continue my education, however, our current condition does not allow for that.
I(Rakesh) had the same reason. I had been waiting for the results of my 10th-grade examination and my family owed money; that was my reason to earn whatever possible while I wait for the results. My father earns Rs. Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 as a labourer in the village with our expenses requiring Rs. 11,000.
Ever since we have been back, there is no consideration to migrate for work. I(Rakesh) aspire to continue with my education and study with an aim to be a doctor.
I(Deepak) think I will become a teacher to educate the children of Khakra. If not for the loan, I would be walking in the direction I have planned. There are two most important subjects: English and Mathematics.
Interviewer: Tell me more about your encounter with the virus? What were your initial reactions, and how has it impacted your life since you have been home?
Deepak Munda & Rakesh Prasad: I(Deepak) am not scared of the virus. Neither do I fully believe in its existence. How is it that we traveled from Bangalore without getting infected? There are many unanswered questions and rumours. News channels claim an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 in Mangalpur was admitted to the hospital, yet he recovered without a scar. What medication was used? Why cannot the same be used for others? After experiencing this unforeseen struggle, it was time for us to become Aatmanirbhar in our village; at our home. This pandemic has taught us to brace ourselves for what’s coming next. It is this virtue that will protect us.
Interviewer: Tell us about your journey from Bangalore to Jharkhand in detail.
Deepak Munda & Rakesh Prasad: It was later into the lockdown we realized we were to register to reserve a ride back home. Two and a half months after the lockdown, we took an auto to the police station to get tested. There were instructions before boarding the Karnataka bus to the railway station; maintain social-distance. At the railway station, we were given the tickets, some food, and ration following another Covid-19 test. Throughout the journey, there were three meals on time along with ration. Upon reaching the Bokaro railway station — we boarded the buses for our districts. They dropped us at Loguburo temple, the quarantine center at the time.
I(Deepak) was provided with a proper meal (dal, rice, and green vegetables) twice a day, and flat rice along with bread. I(Rakesh) got a banana instead of the flat rice. There were over 190 individuals in each quarantine center, some facilities were public. At my(Rakesh) quarantine center, there were three people in one room, and in Deepak’s, there were thirty-three in one large space. The teachers and other members of the administration volunteered to help around the center. There were regular doctor visitations through a window. Fourteen days later we received our certificate and arranged a ride back to the village.
Interviewer: How has your life been since you came back? Have you explored any government schemes to ease your lifestyle?
Deepak Munda & Rakesh Prasad: I(Deepak) own 4 – 5 acres of land at different locations spread across the village. Khakra doesn’t have any fertile land and there is no consistent water source on our property. The possibility of digging a well causes another financial turmoil. The potential schemes we have heard about do not help us.
My(Rakesh) family owns about 2-3 acres of land, as-well. My father takes the responsibility of maintaining and obtaining maximum output from it with my assistance in the process when required.
Currently, our primary income is through my(Deepak) parents working under the MNREGA scheme at a Dobha. It gives me time to search for a suitable job and study further.
My family owns a shop that generates Rs. 700 a day. I will continue living with my parents and study further. The objective is to find a scheme that allows me to continue my education in the village, provide for my family in the village, and continue tutoring in the village.