Covid 19 has forced a few artistes in the city to do odd jobs for survival. Some have turned delivery boys while others have taken up salesperson jobs.
No cultural activities are being held since March this year. That has spelt doom for hundreds of artistes who were dependent on cultural events for their livelihoods. Some of them have been in the field for decades. Free Press spoke to some of them to know how they are making both ends meet. Excerpts:
We artistes can neither become a bhikhari (beggar) nor a beghar (homeless). I am the bread-winner of my family, comprising mother, wife and son. For 30 years, I have been making documentaries for the Madhya Pradesh Government, and was also running my own theatre group. All the related activities have ceased since the lockdown began. For the past three months I am doing direct selling for a Gujarat-based company. There is no option. Our prime minister has given the call for Atmanirbhar Bharat. Probably, he means that every person should take care of himself; the government will do nothing.
I am in the field of theatre for the past 12 years. I am a freelance artiste. Different groups used to hire me. I also used to take music classes. I earned about Rs 20,000 per month. I was happy and satisfied. In the evenings, some of us used to gather at one place and talked on literary issues. All this is past now. I have to take care of my old parents, who live with me. I applied for marketing jobs but was rejected for want of experience. Now, I am working as a delivery boy. I deliver mainly medicines on my bike. I get Rs 30 per delivery. I have to pay a fine if there is a delay in delivery. I can’t do any work on days of lockdown.
I have been doing theatre for the past 1994. My group hasn’t got a grant from the government this year. My husband used to work in a cable TV company. He, too, has lost his job. For the past three months now, I am selling saris from my home. I bring saris from Bairagarh and then sell them to women living in the neighbourhood and acquaintances. We have two sons – aged seven and 17 years and a daughter. All said and done, we have to fill our stomachs.
I have been a singer for the past 30 years. I used to sing film songs in functions and also conduct Ratri Jagrans. These events are not being held now. At that time, I used to earn about Rs 12,000-15,000 per month. I have two children and my wife to look after. Now I am working as a salesman in a garment shop in New Market. They pay me Rs 200 per day. These are difficult times.
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