Today marked the 51st day of our work. Every day we go to work with the hope of doing better, every single day we fail, and it is heartbreaking. Still, the work goes on.
In the morning, nearly 60 people from slums near the University were waiting outside the University to receive rations. Unfortunately we had run out of rations and we had to ask them to return empty handed. These are people who have never begged a day in their life, who, even in extreme financial duress, have worked through it all with sheer labour. Despite the skewed labour laws and all the exploitation they face, they struggle onwards. However this pandemic and the brutally unplanned lockdown that has been imposed to meet it have destroyed all preexisting notions of what is permissible and what is not. The extents to which people are being pushed in pursuit of basic needs are horrific.
In an Adivasi village in Kheyadaha, where we had to go to deliver a week’s worth of rations to 260 families (that is all we had left – 300 families still remain, and we will again reach out with supplies shortly), the sheer lack of resources, the need, is palpable. And to someone who is safely ensconced behind barriers of television, distance and apathy, this need is almost imperceptible. Yet, the lifeblood of humanity is bountiful in them, as evinced by their warmth, their love, as we partook of a meal with them.
Today the Commune cooked food for around 680 people. Rice, dal, ‘shak chocchori’ (mixed herbs and vegetables) were cooked. And yet we still fell short, as we do everyday, as more and more people are driven to hunger and want by the inefficiency, corruption and sheer sheer inadequacy of the State Apparatus.
One wonders, where are the vast reservoirs of money and gold and property squirrelled away by the ultra-rich? Where are these resources pillaged and pilfered from the common people? Why has the Govt, at every level, failed to uphold its mandate of the welfare of the people? And why, oh why are the privileged silent?
On another note today we distributed 13 litre hand sanitizers.
The answer to all these is an illusion. An illusion that accountability will never be sought and obtained by force if necessary, by the common people. We shall not forever be shackled, chained, killed, trodden upon, looted and desecrated. This time shows more than anything the true resilience of the common man. Despite all that is thrown at us, all the hunger, all the poverty, all the heat, the bleaching powder, the sickness – Still we rise.