Guwahati: From living in a red zone to surviving super cyclone Amphan, Neetu Kashyap, a final year masters student of Communication for Development from Tezpur University, Assam has seen it all.
As a part of the university curriculum and to gather work experience, Kashyap and her classmates from the university had to undergo an internship of five months. Kashyap chose to intern at an organisation of international repute in Kolkata from January 6.
“It was a lucky break and I wanted to make the best of my time while I work as an intern in the field office in Kolkata.”
However, things did not turn out the way Kashyap had envisioned as she was greeted with the repercussions of CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) protests in the early months of January due to which she was unable to go to the office for a few days. When things finally settled down, she prepared for exams that one needs to go through to do fieldwork in the office. “Finally after two tests, I was ready to do fieldwork starting from May 27.”
Unbeknownst to her, the nation had already started the nationwide lockdown and on March 22 she started her work-from-home. Alone in a different state, she braced herself for the impact of the lockdown and started to work at the back end of the website. Updating information as her superiors went to front lines. “My entire semester, including my future, depends on this internship and I have to produce some results even if fieldwork was suspended,” she said.
With the hope that things will be better the next day, she trudged on. But in mid-April, her supervisor was transferred to a different country and her work sputtered to a stop. Add on to her worries, Tezpur University was also declared as a COVID-19 treatment facility and quarantine centre.
“I don’t know what is going to happen even if I can come back, we have no clue as to when our semesters would be complete.” Kashyap, said
Additionally, on April 27 (Monday), Kolkata along with three other districts of West Bengal were declared a red zone due to the high COVID-19 positive cases. Fear and paranoia pushed her to a negative state of mental health.
“People and neighbours around my place seem not to care about COVD-19 let alone Red Zones, and that further saturated my fear factor,” she added. Blatant disregard for physical distancing norms and non-usage of PPEs even in a Red Zone was a daily affair. “There is a regular community gully cricket tournament in the evening in front of our house with people gossiping in en-masse,” Kashyap, who is currently residing in Tollygunge Azadgarh of Kolkata, said.
“Just when I had thought the worst was over, we had to brace for the cyclone,” she added. On May 21 super-cyclone Amphan battered West Bengal and Kolkata was one of the worst affected districts.
“We used to get our water from a water machine in our locality but due to the storm there was no drinking water for two days, including electricity,” she added. Many trees of her locality were uprooted due to the storm and a lot of property was damaged.
India started its domestic travel form May 25 and Shramik Trains have been operating for some weeks now. However, Kolkata being a red zone, Kashyap has no way out but to wait.
“It becomes difficult to maintain a level of sanity in these tumultuous times without sounding selfish, so all I can do as of now is to just hope for the best and stay fit,” Kashyap added. We wish her the best.
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