KOCHI: At a time when panicky migrant labourers have become restive awaiting an opportunity to return home, two Assamese workers at Kathrikadavu here are ensuring the smooth functioning of a grocery shop.
Though both Haneef Udhin, 32, and Afeeque Rahman, 27, of Surpur had been under tremendous pressure from family and friends to return home early last month following the spike in Covid-19 cases in Kerala, they decided to avoid the three-day-long train journey home.
“Initially, we were apprehensive. Now we’re happy that we chose to stay back. The owner has reposed a lot of faith in us in running the store during this time of crisis. Our presence is vital to the shop’s day-to-day functioning since the owner will not be able to manage the business alone,” said Haneef, who first arrived here seven years ago. The duo also sees to it that the store opens at 7am sharp — in a marked shift from the usual practice of grocery shops here which start the day’s business a tad late — for the convenience of many customers who turn up early.
“We follow all safety guidelines laid down by the health department to prevent Covid transmission. The shop is sanitised every morning,” Afeeque said, after politely telling a customer to stay outside the shop till the time another buyer who was already inside exited.
‘Generally, people are cooperative these days’
“The police were clear that only one customer at a time should be entertained. So we don’t allow crowding inside the shop. There are a few who frown at our request. But generally people are pretty cooperative these days,” Afeeque said.
He added that several customers are eager to find out about the supply chain and when we tell them everything is fine, happiness on their faces is very evident.“During the first three to four days of the lockdown, there was frantic buying. Now people seem to be more cool and buy only what they need,” said Haneef, adding, he is in constant touch with his family over phone. “When we decided to stay back, many of our friends also decided to stick around. Right now, they are working in the various chicken stalls and small shops here,” he said.