Name: Mirza Afzal
Hometown: Adilabad, Uttar Pradesh
Occupation: Worked in a Garment Shop
Returned from: Gandhinagar, Delhi
Mirza Afzal has spent his past two years at the reception of a clothing line in Gandhinagar, Delhi. For a family of seven, he and his father were the sole earners. He was not prepared for the lockdown and initially struggled without any source of income. With the help of his friends, Afzal drove home to safety.
Interviewer: How did the pandemic affect you?
Mirza Afzal: I have been working at this company for the past two years. They initially paid Rs. 10,000 but, now I pocket Rs. 12,000. Furthermore, my father contributes to the family expenses by working as a guard at a private residence in Greater Noida.
At the announcement of Janta Curfew, I visited my father. However, I did not go back since the lockdown extended to the end of May. I waited for two months for work to restart as the expenses began to double; my father and I were both paying rent, food expenses, and sending money home. My company had not compensated us April onwards. I considered going home to evade any additional spending.
Two of my friends were renting a vehicle back home; they offered me a ride since there was an empty seat, and the fare divided amongst the three of us. I agreed at once. My friends leased a vehicle from Adilabad, and the three of us successfully made the 900 k.m. journey. I did not have money to contribute. However, I pledged to pay upon receiving my next income. The drive costed a sum of Rs. 22,000.
Interviewer: What is your routine now that you are back home?
Mirza Afzal: There is nothing for me to do. The employment opportunities are not enough for all; I look around but find no work. Due to the lockdown, the majority of the organizations remain shut. We are relying on our father’s income for now; I am concerned about his safety there. The clothing line is working at a lower capacity at the moment; the payment has reduced to Rs. 3,000 a month. I will go back when full operations resume; it is not worth going for such a small amount. I was able to save Rs. 10,000, but an unanticipated expense would absorb it almost immediately. We are relying on a small piece of land we own; it eases our stress for food.