Labour Day : An ode to migrant workers & their life in pictures - 30 Stades

Labour Day : An ode to migrant workers & their life in pictures

Migrant workers going home on foot amid Lockdown, Labour Day

Lakhs of migrant labourers all over India are facing the brunt of coronavirus lockdown. Stranded in cities and towns far away from homes and families, many migrants face deprivation and alienation. With little or no resources and scared about the future, “at least 600,000 migrant workers had to walk hundreds of miles to return to their villages”, says the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Some lost lives as they travelled on foot, and bicycles, to reach the safety of their homes. On April 29, the government allowed migrant labourers to return to their states. But they can breathe a sigh of relief only on reaching home after the 14-day quarantine at their state borders.

This Labour Day, 30 Stades brings to you photos and a poem, capturing the plight of the labourers on Indian roads:

मज़दूर की वापसी (A labourer returns)

तू रो मत माँ, मैं जल्दी आऊंगा, कुछ तो वहाँ कमाऊँगा,

शहरों में है काम बहुत, पैसा मैं घर भिजवाऊँगा।

(Don’t cry mother, I will be back soon, I will earn something; there’s a lot of work in cities, I will send money back home)

यह कहके घर से निकला था, दिन रात ढले बस काम किया,

खून पसीना बहुत बहाया, ना पल भर को आराम किया। 

(I had told this to my mom when I left home, I worked tirelessly through day and night; I sweated it out and did not take rest for a minute)

दो रोटी जब हाथों में आयी, घर पैसा भेजना शुरू किया,

माँ-बाबा की लाचारी को, रोटी से थोड़ा कम सा किया।

(When I began to earn enough for food, I started sending money home; I reduced the helplessness of my parents with the food they could now have)

याद बहुत आती उनकी, घर जाने का भी जी करता,

जल्दी से बस छठ आ जाये, लेटे-लेटे सोचा करता।

(I would miss them often and would want to go home; I would lie down at night and think of going home on ‘Chhath’ {Bihar’s biggest festival})

पर छठ आने से पहले देखो, कैसी बीमारी आयी है,

शहर छोड़ के निकल पड़े हैं, पर रस्ते में गहरी खायी है।

(But much ahead of Chhath, this disease has struck; we have left the city but there are many difficulties on the way)

पैदल-पैदल चलते-चलते, अब तन और मन सब टूटा है,

माँ-बाबा को बस देखना है, यह शहर का सपना झूठा है।

(Walking on foot non-stop, now my mind and body are broke; I just want to see my mom and dad, this ‘dream of a city’ is a lie)

गरम हैं सड़के, गरम हवा है, पेड़ों की छाया भी अधूरी है,

तेरे आँचल की यादों के संग, माँ, बस आगे बढ़ना ज़रूरी है।

(The roads are burning, the wind is hot, the shadow of the trees is inadequate; remembering the times spent with you, mom, I have to keep moving ahead)

सुना है दो दिन और लगेंगे, तुम तक मैं फिर आ जाऊँगा,

रूखी-सूखी खा लेंगे हम फिर, पर शहर ना वापस आऊँगा।

(I have heard it will take two more days to reach you; we will make do with whatever frugal two meals we can manage, but I will never return to the city)

                                      –रश्मि प्रताप /Rashmi Pratap

Also Read: Why Mumbai needs its migrant workers to retain its mojo

Migrant worker Mohammad Qadir looks outside the window of his shelter house in Batmallo, Srinagar. Pic: Wasim Nabi



Qadir and other labourers. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Qadir has been surviving on the food provided by local administration. Pic: Wasim Nabi
Migrant worker from Madhya Pradesh, Sushil Kumar (Left), has been stuck with two others at the construction site in Chennai where they worked. He wants to go home as soon as the lockdown is lifted. Pic: Sushil Kumar
Nearly 6 lakh migrant workers have undertaken the road journey to reach home since the lockdown. Pic: Dharmender Singh
Painting titled ‘Social Distance’ by painter and cartoonist Hasif Khan portrays the plight of migrant workers. Pic: Twitter/@hasifkhan
Food to these workers is provided by either NGOs or local administration in association with various companies. Pic: CRISIL
Most migrant workers take only short halts during the night to reach home as early as possible. Pic: Dharmender Singh
Pregnant women, children and infants have all been a part of what is being termed as the biggest human migration on foot after Partition. Pic: Dharmender Singh
Queuing up for food. Pic: Brooke India

Also Read: A migrant worker’s 1,200km journey on foot during the Coronavirus lockdown 

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