LUCKNOW: They say ties are tested when the times are trying.
Ashok, 25, of Varanasi had a brush with this bitter reality on Sunday when he reached home after covering 1600 km from Mumbai to Varanasi on foot. His mother and brother refused to let him in.
Ashok, hailing from Gola Dinanath locality of Varanasi, had gone to Mumbai in search of work four months ago. He got a job as a waiter at a restaurant in Nagpada in Central Mumbai. But after the coronavirus lockdown was announced, the hotel was shut, and Ashok, having tried his luck at other places, was forced to head home till normalcy returned.
"I along with my five friends from Chandauli and other areas, started for home around a fortnight ago. With some cash in hand, we followed the road and rail tracks and walked around 1600 km to reach home,” said Ashok.
As he arrived near Varanasi Cantt Railway station, he could not hold himself back any longer and called up his mother to tell her he was about to reach home. He anticipated a joy-filled response from her. "In these difficult times, when parents are worried about their children who are far away, I expected my mother will be very happy to know that I am back, but imagine my shock when she greeted me with suspicion instead," Ashok recalled.
In fact, the whole locality became worried once the news of his arrival spread. They were all desperate to bar Ashok's return and immediately informed the police authorities of their area.
It was not that Ashok had been irresponsible. Mindful of his stay in Mumbai, Ashok first went to the Divisional Hospital in Kabirchaura. Since there was no screening being done there, Ashok was directed to the Deen Dayal Level 2 hospital.
At the hospital, after his screening, the doctors advised him to self-quarantine himself for 14 days, though he had no signs of the virus in him.
After deciding to follow the doctors' advice, Ashok headed home, but, as reported earlier, his mother and brother refused to open the door, suspecting him to be a carrier of the virus. Ashok tried his best to convince his family and pleaded that they give shelter to him, but to little avail.
Distressed, he then made his way to his maternal grandmother’s house in a locality named Katuapura. Here too the story was no different.
Besides being worried that Ashok might have contracted the virus, his family also reportedly felt that if they allowed him to stay at home, health authorities and the police will keep making repeated visits to monitor him and to ensure that he follows the health protocol and isolation orders.
With Ashok having no place to stay till late Sunday evening, the district police administration got him admitted to the quarantine centre at a private hospital in Maidagin locality of Varanasi.
"He is fine but very exhausted and worn out," said Kotwali police station house officer Inspector Mahesh Pandey.
The police are now gathering information about his friends and have started tracking them for screening and quarantining.