As Restrictions Start Easing, Students Wonder If It Is Safe To Travel Home
It has been five months since Augustina Tnagu visited her family back at her hometown in Arunachal Pradesh. Being a BA Japenese student at JNU in Delhi, she was engaged in her exams at the starting of the year. When she was finally free to go back to Pasighat to see her family and her pet dog, the entire nation went into lockdown. And since then, she has been living all alone in a rented house in Safdarjung. Now that the country is slowly easing the restrictions, is it a sign of hope for her? Will she be able to travel back and see her family?
During lockdown 4.0, India has started taking small steps to get back in the groove after a two-month-long shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19. Following the rules of social distancing, interstate buses are now running in few states, domestic flights will resume from 25 May while 200 trains are ready to hit the tracks from June 1. But are students who spent the lockdown away from their families willing to travel back? SheThePeople.TV spoke to some students who are staying away from their families to get an idea about the same. Though the students had somewhat different reasons to stay back when the country went under its first lockdown, all of them agreed on not taking the risk to travel back right now. The danger of getting infected while travelling in trains or buses, the trouble to go through 14-days of quarantine and follow other health protocols of the respective states where their families live still remains an unnecessary struggle.
“Considering the pandemic situation and the issues of safety, I thought it to be wise to stay wherever I am. Plus, being an introvert, staying alone in a house hasn’t been such a problem for me but yes I have to cook my own meals and be extra careful about everything. But yes, sometimes I do wish I was with my family and especially my pet,” said Augustina reflecting on how she’s been spending the lockdown. When I asked her if is she planning to return to her home town anytime soon, she said, “I don’t think so. It is not convenient to travel in this situation as it will be too troublesome to stay in quarantine at the check gates. Besides, it will take a longer time to reach home than it usually does and there will be a lot of people travelling along with me which is just not safe considering how contagious the virus is.”
For somewhat similar reasons, Debasmita Sarkar, BA LLB student from Symbiosis Law School, Noida had to spend her lockdown alone in an apartment in Noida. Said Sarkar, whose family is in Kolkata, “The idea was to stay put for where one is if it’s possible logistically and economically. I personally was apprehensive of air or train travel. My concern was shared by my parents whose main priority was my health and safety.” Speaking about how she managed the situation alone, she added, “Even though the first few weeks were difficult because the number of cases was rising significantly and there were quarantine zones not far from my apartment, I ensured to stay safe as I had already stocked essential supplies and refrained from going out in any scenario.”
It has been three months Debasmita hasn’t been to her home. All her friends managed to go back in March but she did not want to take any risk in the health crisis. But is she willing to take the first flight to Kolkata when domestic flights resume? “I will definitely be going back when it is objectively safe. Data shows that if the lockdown lifts by the end of May, there will be another huge spike in June because people would be more in contact with each other and lesser social distancing. I’m not ready to make the railway journey as I have sanitary concerns for stations and the coach. I will book a flight to Kolkata once things blow over a bit but unfortunately, the current scenario is dreadful and daunting and it would be hard for me to rightly predict when I will be going home,” she said.
Similarly, Anjali, MA English student of DU is spending the lockdown at her flat in Delhi, away from her parents who live in Rajasthan. Although, she wanted to spend the lockdown alone to get some me-time and space from her family. “I don’t face any difficulty in staying away. I am staying with my elder sister in the flat and the lockdown has given me a good span of time to spend by myself. Besides, the grocery shops are very near to my apartment so we go buy the groceries whenever it is open.”
When I asked her if she wanted to go back to her home if transportation resumes, she said, “Trains, buses et all are not safe to travel right now. Plus, I feel there is no urgency for me to move back either. I am able to manage here away from home.”
Image Credit: Buddhi