Dr. Deepti Naik

I didn’t think much of the fact that I was a newbie in the city. I just took my car and, with the help of a fellow volunteer and Google maps, started distributing food to the needy, five days a week.

I hail from a family of doctors from a village called Baghera, in Chattisgarh. After my MD in Radiology, I worked for fourteen years as a consultant Radiologist in Bangalore. I moved to Mumbai only four months back and started working at a clinic in Marine Lines. As the lockdown began, I had to cut down my work to only two days a week. When I was looking for ways to utilize my time, I came across Khaanachahiye.I didn’t think much of the fact that I was a newbiein the city. I just took my car and, with the help of a fellow volunteer and Google maps, started distributing food to the needy, five days a week.

At the end of my first day, a few food packets were left with me. Instead of taking it back to the kitchen, I thought of distributing it in a slum nearby. I googled and found out that there was a slum in this place called Wadala. While distributing the food, I ended up chatting with a few people. Most of them were happy with the cooked food that we were serving, but some of them wanted ration. Khaanachahiye hadn’t started ration distribution by then. So, I bought ration for around fifty families from a kirana store in the locality. I continued with my distribution-rounds for the next few days.

Things were going smooth, until April 2nd when I was suddenly down with fever and chills. Something told me this wasn’t a good sign. When it didn’t subside for the next few days, I gave my blood for testing for Malaria and Dengue. Two days later, the results came, and both were negative. My WBC count was only 500. That confirmed my worst fears. I requested for COVID1-19 testing the same day and began treatment with Hydroxychloroquine immediately. After giving throat swabs, I nervously awaited the results - The worst 24 hours of my life. All the instances when I could have caught the infection flashed before me. The images of my time in the slum in Wadala were particularly haunting. Did I let too many people come near me? How many of them were wearing masks? Did anyone cough? I was alone in a new city. How would I handle this emergency, with all my friends and family faraway? Most of all, I was worried when I will be able to see my thirteen-year-old daughter, who was in Chattisgarh, thousands of miles away.

My COVID result came on April 9th. It was negative. Uff…I’m not joking, I cried. I am a doctor, and I know that COVID-19 is not as fatal as other ailments. I feel stupid thinking about it now, but I couldn’t help. I cried my heart out. The same day, I went to a supermarket nearby, bought loads of groceries, and treated myself to my favorite dish.

The next day, I wanted to get back to food distribution. But the team at khaanachahiye insisted that I take the next few days off. I returned to my route next week.

“Weren’t you afraid to go back to food distribution after your experience?”

I don’t know why, but I wasn’t afraid. In fact, while confined to my home for one week, I felt extremely uncomfortable, as if I was in my own safe lacuna while the rest of the city was ailing. It’s funny, right? I was just four months old in this city, but I was already feeling attached.

Of course, when I went back, I took extra precautions. Not that I wasn’t careful earlier. Masks, gloves, sanitizer, etc. are a must while volunteering for khaanachahiye. But I started taking even small precautions seriously - Like always tying my hair and wearing the visor at all times.

I am thankful to my friends and family for the support that they gave me. Particularly my eldest sister, who works in the COVID-19 contact tracing team in Ahmedabad. She helped assure the rest of my family that I was safe. And my daughter too. She has been so strong and encouraging, especially during those trying times. She is an expert on COVID-19 now. She even gave a presentation in her school on precautions to be taken against COVID-19. I’m so proud of her. I have booked tickets for May 4th to meet her. But I don’t think domestic travel from Mumbai will be allowed by then. Hopefully, my city will recover soon, and I will get to see my daughter again.

Check out more such stories

Ashfaaq Shaikh

read their story >

Anand Masrani

read their story >

Parth Sarthi Shukla

read their story >

Support Mumbai's fight against hunger

We are grateful for your past support, which enabled us to realise our ambitious goals. As we persist in our mission, your renewed sponsorships sustain the continuous operation of our community kitchens, ensuring that essential meals continue to reach those in need.

Ready to make a lasting difference?
Use the form to pledge your support or contact us at volunteer@khaanachahiye.com for queries or additional assistance.

PS - We deeply value your commitment to ending hunger and enhancing lives in Mumbai.

Thanks for reaching out!
we're also active on:
Oops! Something went wrong. Try again.

Khaana Chahiye Foundation traces its origins to a citizen-led food-relief effort during Mumbai's Covid-19 lockdown, evolving into one of the city's largest crisis management initiatives. Today, it persists in its mission to combat hunger through various relief and advocacy efforts.

For inquiries, please contact us at:
contact@khaanachahiye.com

Follow us on our socials
© Khaana Chahiye 2023. All rights reserved. Website by one.studio