“Are you ok?” The security had asked for the third time as Ganesh stood there with uncontrollable tears and simply stared. “I am fine.” He managed to say. As he started climbing the stairs, he could still hear the security’s words who stood at the gate of his apartment. “My death has a value now.”
The past couple of days reeled in his memory.
Two days earlier
“Hey wake up, wake up”, Ganesh was rudely awaken from his slumber by his friend Suresh who had excitement written all over his face. “The college had declared an indefinite holiday asking us to vacate immediately on account of corona. Come on sleepy head. Get up and get ready.”
Ganesh was a third year engineering student who attended college from the hostel provided accommodation. He and Suresh were roomies and great friends. Hardly coming out of the trance, Ganesh got up, refreshed, grabbed a few things and just made out. He was about to cross the main road when the phone rang. He saw and his face was happy. It was his dad. Ganesh had texted his dad to book tickets for him.
After attending the call, he was not that happy. His father had just conveyed that all buses have cancelled bookings and he has to make do with what was available and come home somehow. “Don’t worry. I know you are not used to crowds. I will manage to get you into a bus before boarding mine.” Suresh’s words brought on a sense of guilt.
When all his friends made prior plans and booked tickets well in advance to save money, he just made fun of them.
“I will travel when I want to. My dad can book the best bus anytime when I want to go home.” He sneered with pride. “He can, but do you want him to waste money on this?” Suresh reminded every time but with vain.
He managed to swim through the crowds and got a place to stand the entire journey. The entire bus was crowded but no one minded. Everybody wanted to go home before a possible lockdown. That was the first time he understood the value of a clean bus seat with all amenities to get him home safely.He reached home late evening and he was so glad to come out of the dirty bus with all the crowd and a special mention to the mask he had to wear. His mom made up for the discomfort by making his favourite food and he slept off.
The next day dawned bright and it was announced that the entire state will have a full lockdown to prevent spread of the virus. His mom had brought the essential provisions beforehand but needed to get water on a regular basis. His mom got on call to the usual delivery of packaged drinking water can. The cans were available but there were no one to deliver. “Ma’am, there are no delivery person available. Can you ask your husband or son to fetch it from the store? I will reserve one for you.” The grocer had said. Since Ganesh’s father had back pain he was the obvious choice. He went to the shop in the two wheeler and got the can. As he started back, he had a hard time balancing the can in the vehicle. He had to exercise extreme caution so as not to drop the can and managed to come home.
As he reached, another challenge was on his way. He had to bring the can to the lift and from the lift door to his door. He dragged, lifted and did everything and brought it home. “I am sorry dear that you had to work a lot. But you know, we don’t have a choice.” Her words brought in another sense of guilt easily. The guy who delivers the can usually is of his own age but had to work as he had no choice. There he learnt the value of his comfortable lifestyle.
Today was another day of grocery shopping with utmost caution. After what seemed a hectic schedule, Ganesh reached his apartment and he was greeted by the security personnel of his apartment with a bottle of sanitizer. He has never seen the person so cheerful before. His eyes were sparkling with pure joy. He started a conversation. “Uncle you seem so happy. All of us have got holidays or get a chance to be at home. You don’t have even that leverage. How come you are so cheerful?”
“Son, I am surprised that you noticed it today. Of course I am really happy. I have four mouths to feed at home. I will always be worried on what will happen to them in case I am gone. Also I never had the means to get a health or an insurance policy. Now with the corona duty, government has given me all these facilities at a menial cost. I am ready to do anything as I am rest assured my family will be ok even after I am no more. My death has a value now.”
Ganesh couldn’t stop his eyes getting moist and a few tears roll down his cheek. His eyes went all gooey as he started climbing the stairs home. When he reached home, he wiped his eyes clean and now he had a clear vision.
The Value of life.