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Short story of the impact of pandemic on ordinary people who are not on Twitter. A few days back, Arjun (name changed) called my wife & asked to come & meet her. Arjun is someone I have known for ~ 2 decade. An owner driver, I have used him for my frequent travels..1/n
to Mumbai & nearby places. He is honest, hardworking guy who my family & I trust a lot. He has ferried my kids when they were as small as 5-10 yrs old to Mumbai to my sister's place all alone with no adults in tow. A devout God fearing man. Over the yrs, he got married..2/n
had two daughters & got himself a small place for his family. I had no travel last 15 months, so he would call once in a few months to ask if I had any travel planned. When he came to meet my wife 2 days ago, the most noticeable thing was how thin he looked. Asked him..3/n
if he was well and left him to talk to my wife. Turned out that he needed money. He was broke. Wanted a loan to replace the tyres of his car & get the annual RTO passing done. Said he wanted ₹25k which my wife immediately agreed to give. I just got talking while she...4/n
made the transfer to his account. Turned out he & his wife had been having only one meal a day, but ensuring the girls were fed. School was a problem - he could not afford 2 smart phones for both girls. He had already pawned the jewellery & used up his savings..5/n
He was however only 3 months behind on his car loan & the bank was being patient. I wondered why he needed ₹25k for tyres & 'passing'. Turned out he actually needed ₹40k but was embarrassed to ask. Apparently the RTO officials will not pass his car without a hefty...6/n
bribe. About ₹10k. Had to be done through an agent or they would fail the car on a minor pretext. Pandemic or not, India's rent seeking govt officials have not learnt any humanity. Anyways, I transferred an additional ₹15k from my account. Arjun burst out crying..7/n
I think he was just overwhelmed. He did not know where the remaining ₹15k would come from, so this was a relief. He kept promising to return the money and thanking us. My wife said he did not need to return the money, but could treat it as an advance for future journeys..8/n
Arjun is a proud man & we did not want to destroy what was left of his pride & self image by treating it as a loan. He said he was eternally grateful & would be available for any travel anytime. He did not need to say it, but I think it mattered for his pride & self-image..9/n
The worst thing that this pandemic has done is not just the financial destruction to ordinary lives, but it is breaking confident, proud men & women who never in their lives had to beg for financial help. People who had managed their finances sensibly upto now but ...10/n
found they were at the end of their tether. This damage is going to be long lasting & have more pernicious effect than the temporary disruption in our lives. All this makes me sad, upset & angry. As a human being & as a mental health professional. The sheer abdication by..11/n
our policy makers who seem more concerned about appearances & irrelevant stuff, than put in place a system which can support countless Arjuns in the country. It's people like Arjun who are at highest risk of suicide in coming mths/yrs.. END.

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