GUWAHATI, April 23 - The extended lockdown has hit the poor severely, choking off their means of day-to-day livelihood, but undeterred by the misfortune, many have opted for different occupations, especially vending activities. Taslim Ali, a city-based mason who was left without a job by the lockdown has turned to selling fish to make both ends meet.
�For more than two weeks I did nothing but when I realised that the shutdown was going to be extended I started to look for some work. I had some acquaintances among the fish sellers and when sale of fish and poultry was resumed, I found myself occupied again,� Ali, who originally hails from Goalpara, told The Assam Tribune.
Ali is happy that he is earning something even during the lockdown that has forced an almost total closure of many economic activities.
Biren Roy, a rickshaw-puller in the city, has had a similar transformation during the lockdown. He has now been selling fruits on a push-cart together with a friend.
�I was solely dependent on my rickshaw to feed myself and my family. The lockdown caught us unawares, obliterating my chances to join my family at Bongaigaon. For people like us who survive on day-to-day earnings, this has been a terrible situation. Once the sale of fruits was allowed, I found out a way to bring fruits from the wholesalers and sell those at a particular point and also across localities sometimes. It is far better than sitting idle,� he said.
It is not just their pragmatism and resilience but also their sense of self-esteem that has helped these people to survive the shutdown.
After he found himself jobless, Rahmat Ismail, who used to sell cheap stationery ware by the roadside, has volunteered to do manual labour in households so that he can survive on his own earnings rather than relying on alms provided by the government.
�I do not want to live as a beggar. I have a family with two children but still I would prefer to earn my meal rather than beg for food. Not that I am getting a lot through my work as a manual labourer but it has protected my pride at the same time,� Ismail, who insisted that he would not take free food provided by anyone, said.