The 70-day-long lockdown enforced to check Coronavirus spread in India has pushed many families to the brink. Left with little or no option, quite many hapless families have now switched over to the non-conventional occupation to stay alive!
The case in point is that of Sukhchain Devi who has taken up razor and scissors in hands to shave the beards of the males, trim their moustaches and also to keep their hair in size to make them look smart.
A resident of Basaul village under Barri-Phulwaria block in Sitamarhi district, the woman was forced to walk out of her home and take up non-conventional job which, erstwhile, had the monopoly of the males after the lockdown dried up all her sources of income and her husband got stuck in Punjab due to lockdown.
Her job starts early in the morning.
Armed with razors, blades, scissors and shaving cream, the woman dressed in traditional Indian sari can be seen visiting the houses of the local villagers and shaving their beards or trimming their hair on their demand every day to support her family.
Mother of three ~ two sons and a daughter ~ she learnt how to trim hair and shave from her husband Ramesh Thakur just out of curiosity earlier but now this art is proving to be a boon at this critical time.
“I earn around Rs 200- 300 a day. Many villagers also pay grains as wages and I happily accept them…That is enough to keep us alive,” said the woman.
According to her, her husband who works as a migrant labourer in Punjab had been sending some money to run the family earlier but for the past three months, he had not sent a penny since he himself has been left jobless due to lockdown and battling hard for survival.
“So the entire responsibility to take care of my children has now fallen upon me. Who will take care of them if I don’t carry out haircutting job? At least, I am not committing crime?” she said.
She wants to make her children literate so that they could get good jobs and lead a respectable life. Eldest son, Amaresh, studies in Class VII, daughter Ranjana is enrolled in Class VI while the youngest, Deepanshu, is yet to join school.
Life has been full of struggle and tragedies for this woman but she has not surrendered before the circumstances.
She was married with a local youth sometime back but he died of disease soon. Subsequently, she was married with her brother-in-law (husband’s younger brother) yet her financial condition never improved and the family always remained hand to mouth. Some two years back, she asked her husband to teach her the art of hair-cutting and he did that.
Initially, she was very hesitant about touching the males and trimming their hair. She never stepped out of her house but post lockdown, she has been forced to make rounds of the neighbouring villages and run the mobile barbershop to keep her family afloat.