BHOPAL: It was not the best of times. A bizarre silence seeped into everywhere. The stillness seemed to have tossed down the empty roads.
In the evening, the cries of hungry dogs totted up scariness to that silence that sent the chills down the spine.
Nobody came out, as the creepy coronavirus was lurking everywhere. But General Manager of Palash Residency in the city, Ajay Shrivastava, could hardly afford to stay indoors.
He had to feed the corona patients and the corona warriors such as doctors, policemen and health workers.
The challenge was that the fare he had to prepare had to be nutritious to keep the corona fighters healthy and cheerful.
Shrivastava says the task was taxing. On the one hand, the virus was lying in wait. On the other hand, it was the hunger that stung those who were working round the clock to fight down the deadly disease.
Shrivastava adds as the shops and markets were shut, getting essential commodities was not a piece of cake. He had to prepare food for nearly 8,000 people daily.
It all began on March 23. After sudden announcement of lockdown, everything went haywire. Initially, he prepared 1, 000 food packets, especially for policemen and doctors.
As the days slipped past, the orders for number of food packets shot up. He and his team had to knock together all resources to make 3, 500 lunch packs, equal amount of dinner packs and around 1,000 breakfast packs.
The teammates took orders for breakfast even at 2am. They had only two hours to rest. They had to wake up even before the first ray of the sun peeped through the eastern vault of the sky.
He says the hands of those teammates who made chapattis swelled up. Their families advised them to return home. Yet, they went on and on.
Shrivastava says some supernatural power seemed to have amped them up.
He also always cheered his team members. His encouragement also wore their weariness off. Apart from that, he persuaded the family members of his team saying that all of them were working for a cause. This was a difficult time – a time – to serve the nation.
Those words reeled out a message to those anxious family members who realised the importance of the work that Shrivastava, together with his teammates, was doing. The family members gradually stopped getting nervy.
There was a music system to perk up the spirits of his teammates. Many of them could not go home for two months.
The family of Shrivastava helped him to keep on smiling in that out-of-the-ordinary situation. Besides making food and supplying it, Shrivastava had to ensure that every member of his team followed corona protocols.
He continued to supply food to the corona patients and the health workers till October. By then, the orders for food packets though reduced.
Shrivastava says the difficulties are yet to drift away. But the eerie silence on thoroughfares and in alleys, which he experienced last year, still haunts him.