Sonali, 24, is a freelance writer. She has Cerebral Palsy - a kind of disability that affects movement and muscle tone or posture.
Social distancing orders
It was late March when our Prime Minister declared complete lockdown as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It was late evening and I was on my bed at that time. My first thought was - how will Usha aunty come home now?
She is my caretaker and had just left for the day. She has been with me for 12 years now – a middle-aged woman who is always in a jolly mood.
I always feel happy hearing her chit chat and gossip. She has become an integral part of my family. Not only is she a good listener but she also does not judge me.
She comes twice a day. In the morning, to help me to take a bath and get ready for the day. And then in the evening to help me change, comb my hair and use the washroom. She also helps me during my periods.
Next morning, I sat by my window and waited for Usha aunty to come. I was hoping against hope that maybe she can come. But when she did not, I tried to call her. Her phone was switched off. My mom, who is a teacher and has her own work, took some time off and helped me do my morning chores.
In the afternoon, I got a call from Usha aunty. ‘I tried coming to your place but the police stopped me,’ she said. She also said that she explained my problem to police but they said she would need a curfew pass.
I don’t know what happened to me then that I started crying. I never felt so helpless in my entire life as I felt then. Hearing me cry, aunty consoled. I am also equally worried about you but do not know how to get a curfew pass made, she said.
Hearing me cry, my mom and dad came to my room. They both assured me that they were there to take care of me. My dad then called up the helpline and checked how he can get a curfew pass made for Usha aunty. He called up Usha aunty for her details.
Next two days went by without any sign of her and I managed everything with my mom’s help. I felt very stressed about everything and could not sleep for two days.
However, on the third day my dad said that he was able to get a pass made for Usha aunty with the help of our neighbour – who works with the police.
My wait was finally over. The next morning, Usha aunty came home, smiling as always. I wanted to hug her so much but we both had to wait as she sanitised herself. We gave her a new pair of slippers that she could wear at our home. My mother also advised her to wear a pair of gloves and mask when she helped to avoid any direct contact.
‘I missed you aunty,’ I told her. She smiled and said, ‘Main bhi’. We both smiled and laughed at the same time. Life suddenly seemed much easier now. I knew I could sleep peacefully now.
To avoid any exposure, I asked her to come only once a day and leave by 5 pm. We are taking utmost precautions and asking her to do the same.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.