– Thyagrajan Seshadri

In the beginning of March 2020, and I had a series of conversations with Kumar, a 42 year old security guard of my building. The conversations would cover topics from present day pollution, traffic in Chennai, particularly, Nungambakkam, water crisis, recent films, trending and bit of state politics.

I could see his enthusiasm, whenever he saw me and came forward to say “vanakkam sir”. Kumar was well informed and meticulous in his job. During our conversations, he often mentioned that COVID19 was spreading fast and far. I could sense his concern as he told me that he wanted to get back to his hometown. He had to take care of his family of two daughters.

He said he had enough of this job in the last 15 years. He had worked hard and felt it was time to go back home. He was very much in need of cash as he had a debt of Rs.8000. I nudged him to take that step and gave him Rs. 300 so that he could take a bus to his native place Cheyyar.

He brought a substitute Security guard. Before he left, he came to meet me. He revealed that he had sold the cycle to part pay for Debt. He also said he would collect the monthly wages in Cash instead of cheque

Kumar left Chennai in the 2nd week of March. He informed me through his friend that he had reached home safely before the COVID 19 crisis and lockdown. He had found a temporary employment as a transport driver job. He was happy to be reunited with his family. The grant of Rs 1000, which he received from the state government had infused in new life in him. His friend told me that the “store-value of cash” gave him the courage to make the transition in life and tide over the crisis.

I could not have agreed more with him. Many migrant workers who are underbanked found solace in cash during this COVID-19 crisis.

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