International Labour Day I May 1, 2020

As a desolate world waits for the possibility of restoration of an old order of life.

As society lays etherized on the metaphorical table.

As we grapple with things like boredom, WFH, and lack of social activity.

There are those whom we watch from a distance.

The labour force. Taking the fight to the enemy. On the ground. Away from their home and family.

While most remain confined in homes under a four-week national lockdown to keep the coronavirus at bay, garbage collectors still spend eight hours a day on Mumbai’s streets to keep our homes and locality clean; some pick up waste with bare hands and load it onto a truck—without gloves, boots, uniforms, or hand sanitizers.

To fight facts with fear, upholding the profession of journalism becomes more important than ever in a time of crisis. In India, over 80 journalists have tested positive for coronavirus. The maximum number of cases were reported from Mumbai — including reporters, cameramen, and photojournalists.

For truckers, this period has been even more challenging as they have had to circulate essential supplies with little or no time to care for themselves. Even the police are risking their health and loved ones to enforce the sweeping virus lockdown.

As such this period has brought forward a generation of shy heroes, like our nurse with her scissors, medicine bottles, needles, and hairpins taking on an epidemic, leaving behind a 5-year-old son. The doctor who returns home and fears to hug his daughter. Then there are the low wage workers in housekeeping. There is no hospital that would not grind to a halt in 5 minutes without them.

And all they wish is for each one of us to stay home, stay safe. That’s it.

This May Day, #labourprayer is a gesture for the many workers across professions and walks of life; even in these uncertain times, they are carting the essentials of our society so that our homes – and lives – keep running smoothly.

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