32-year-old Pramila Pawar, a native of Solapur has been jobless since the lockdown was imposed across the country in March. She was a housemaid and used to work in four houses in Belapur Village to keep her family going. Her husband was daily wage labour at a construction site in Ulwe.
However, the last two and a half months of lockdown have been nothing but a nightmare for her family. They have exhausted all their savings, and now they are left with no money to even meet their daily needs. So, they have decided to leave for their native village.
She says that one of the societies where she was working has been sealed after a coronavirus positive case was found. And, the two other societies are not allowing maids. “My husband who was working at a construction site in Ulwe is also jobless and while construction work has started at few sites, they are employing very few people,” said Pawar.
Another domestic help too shared her similar plight amid the lockdown. Rupa Saha, a native of Bolpur in West Bengal said that a housing society in Nerul had allowed her to work, but had put a condition that she cannot work at other societies.
“It is very difficult to work at one house and run the family,” said Saha, adding that her husband’s small vada pav shop in Karanjade was also closed during the lockdown. Now, they don’t have enough money to run a family of six. They have three daughters and one son.
NGOs have provided many of them with groceries and food. However, many of them do not see a respite coming their way anytime soon, and have decided to leave for their native villages. Vinoti Kumhar, a native of Muzaffarpur in Bihar said that trains have already started and they would go back to her home town. “There will be agriculture-related work in Bihar as monsoon is approaching. And, the next three-four months will be very difficult in Mumbai because of rain,” said Kumhar. She added that they sold her jewelry to buy train tickets.
It is not only maids who have had difficulties during the lockdown. Even some families have been facing difficulties with no maids coming to their residences.
“My parents are senior citizens and they need support for some work. We have a domestic help who used to help the whole day. But, after the lockdown, we have to remain near them all the time,” said Pawan Verma, a resident of Seawoods.