The Social Distance

“Stop tossing and turning, Radha. Your bangles are making a hell of a racket!”


“Ever since the lockdown began, you’ve not been sleeping well. And neither are you letting me.”

“I can’t! I’m worried.”

“What are you worried about? We’re healthy and fine. The children are fine.”

“Jobs … savings … We’ve been saving up for a house. And this past month, we’ve only been spending. Food, fees, electricity, rent, mobile. And your factory is shut …”

“I got my salary for this month. So did you. The lockdown’s supposed to be over tomorrow. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine.”

“You don’t know that. What if they extend the lockdown? My uncle in Rewari … his son Vinod’s factory shut down.”

“Oh! How come?”

“The owner said he has run out of money … bankrupt. Vinod doesn’t have a job to go back to. What if your owner does the same, Mahesh?”

“Hmm … I don’t know … How long can he keep paying the salaries of three hundred people? Nothing’s selling, nothing’s moving.”

“If they extend the lockdown, how long will our savings last?”

“How can I tell? We’ll cut back. Ask the landlord to defer the rent. Worse comes to worst, we’ll go back. At least we can eat what we can grow.”

“Tch! The big people brought this disease from abroad and the poor are sinking deeper.”

“We’re all in this together, Radha. Big, small, employees, employers. Everyone’s human. They too have problems and limitations.”

“Hmm. It is what it is. Can’t blame anyone, really. My didis are very nice. They love me a lot. Can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow!”

“Enough chit chat. Wake up the kids—the tanks won’t fill by themselves. And switch off the damn cooler! Bloody wasting electricity till 6 in the morning.”

“Wake up, Anuj! We overslept!”

“What time is it?”

“It’s eight-thirty! Your meeting begins in an hour and mine’s at ten. I can’t be late today.”

“Don’t switch off the AC. And give me some chai, Bhavu sweetheart.”

“Make it yourself. And for god’s sake, at least wear a pair of jeans today.”

“Yeah, yeah, okay. Chai…”

“No! Please do the dishes first! Only then I can mop the floor and make breakfast. Have tea with breakfast now. We’re running late.”

“Oho! Can’t wait for the lockdown to get over tomorrow. I think I need Radha more than you. do”

“Very funny. But Anuj, I’ve been thinking… The virus isn’t going to die away tomorrow. I’m not sure Radha should join back.”

“You’re saying that?!”

“I mean, you know, they live in a crowded slum. God only knows their hygiene standards. Who touches whom and what. I don’t want the virus in our house!”

“Hmm… But we’ll still have to pay her salary. Tch! Can we ask her to cook too?”

“What? No! Misha gets her maid to both clean and cook. Can you believe it? So unhygienic!”

“I’m sure she washes her hands before cooking!”

“But still, you know, it’s wrong. On top of that, she’s not even a Hindu. I wonder what Misha’s mom-in-law thinks.”

“Gaurav told me she’s a great cook. Makes good non-veg.”

“So what if she’s a good cook? I would never allow that!”

“Yeah, whatever. Hey, how about biryani for lunch?”

“Yes, let’s do that! Order from Nizam’s. The kids love it.”

“Okay. Hey, don’t wake them up yet. They look so innocent!”

Image by Omar González from Pixabay

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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