Odisha migrant worker spends time alone after long walk from Mumbai

He is yet to get his COVID-19 test result and has spent 10 days in self-quarantine at a school.

Updated - May 08, 2020 01:11 pm IST

Published - May 08, 2020 12:35 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

Damru Suna, 28, covered a distance of 1,400 km from Mumbai to Khajurpada village in Balangir district, Odisha, in two weeks.

Damru Suna, 28, covered a distance of 1,400 km from Mumbai to Khajurpada village in Balangir district, Odisha, in two weeks.

As if walking 1,400 km to reach home was not gruelling enough, a migrant worker in Odisha has been spending endless hours alone at a school verandah, with the hope of passing the COVID-19 test.

For Damru Suna, a 28-year-old breadwinner who covered the distance from Mumbai to nondescript Khajurpada village in Balangir district in two weeks, each passing hour is increasingly becoming strenuous and he is getting restless over what lies ahead for him.

“I am worried and so are my family members. The long walk did not give me that much of trauma compared to what I am experiencing now,” said Mr. Suna.

Also read | Short end of the stick: on assistance to migrant workers

The construction worker has chosen self-quarantine on the verandah of a closed school for the past 10 days. With villagers keeping a watch, no one visits to give him hope and strength with comforting words in times of pandemic.

An Anganwadi worker comes twice in a day to deliver food while the rest of the day he strolls on the school campus where he had once studied.

Mr. Suna was working as a daily wager at a construction site near Kalyan in Mumbai. After having spent three weeks in lockdown, he was left with little ration to survive on. The help from compassionate people around him also dried up. Sensing that the days ahead would only become grimmer, the migrant worker started his journey towards Odisha on April 14.

“I was alone on the road with puffed and flattened rice and ₹2,000 for emergency. During the walk, nothing crossed my mind except the goal of reaching my home. After 15 days of continuous walk, I reached home on April 28,” said Mr. Suna.

As per his version, Mr. Suna walked from Mumbai to Nagpur and then Raipur. He entered Odisha through Nuapada district border. During his journey, he ate the food gifted by police personnel and kept saving his money for the worst period.

“I had met scores of migrant workers, some with their families, walking back home. Except a few words exchanged about their domicile, I did not have time to waste. I was able to cover a distance almost 100 km a day,” narrated Mr. Suna.

When he reached his village, Khajurpada, fellow villagers did not allow him to enter his house. Mr. Suna was advised to stay at a panchayat quarantine centre in Pitalkhat, 12 km away. He was reluctant to spend another 14 days away from his family.

“I opted for quarantine on the verandah of our village school and promised not to break the quarantine norms. At least, my parents and brother could watch me from a distance,” he said. His blood and swab samples were collected immediately and the administration is yet to communicate the COVID-19 test result.

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