Nitin Phalke

''अगर हम घर से निकलेंगे तो किसि और के घर का चुल्ह जलेगा। Only if we step out, will someone’s stove light up"

“My family, particularly my second daughter, were worried about me stepping out during the lockdown. I ignored them and continued coming for work. Three weeks back, when I got up, I found myself locked in my room. It was my daughter’s handiwork. She stealthily planned everything the night before, got my wife out of our room before I awoke and locked me up. I tried my best to convince her, but she didn’t pay any heed. At 9 AM, my colleagues with whom I leave for work, came to my house asking for me. My daughter told them that I am unwell and can’t go to work. Can you imagine the audacity of that girl?

Then my manager called. I lied to my daughter that he was rebuking me and threatening me with dismissal if I didn’t come to the office. Even then, she didn’t budge. Finally, I begged her to consider the condition of my customers. What will anyone do without gas during a lockdown? They can’t even go out to eat. I told her that they were dependent on us. And we shouldn’t be causing them any more trouble. I told her,

अगर हम घर से निकलेंगे तो किसि और के घर का चुल्ह जलेगा।

Only if we step out, will someone’s stove light up.

 Finally, she understood. But she made sure that I take all precautions while stepping out. She serves me ginger tea and makes sure that I gargle my throat in the night. When I come back, she makes sure that hot water is ready in the bathroom for my bath and also to soak my clothes in Dettol.

 I keep telling her about the goodness I see around even during these times. I have been doing this job for 33 years now. I started as a temporary worker working at a commission of 15 paisa per cylinder. I used to deliver cylinders in three-wheeled cycles. After so many years, some of our customers treat us like family. They invite us to their homes and offer tea and snacks whenever we go. Even during the lockdown, when we can’t step in their houses, they bring us tea at their gates. For food, we used to depend on small road-side eateries that offer cheap meals. But now, when all those shops are closed, we get meals from people like you.

So I keep telling my daughter that we should take precautions, but there is no need to be scared. The compassion of those around us will always protect us.”

 At khaanachahiye, we consider it a privilege to serve people like Nitin Phalke and his colleagues, who, during these trying times, courageously step out of their homes to selflessly perform their duties.

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Khaana Chahiye Foundation is a
non-profit organization based in Mumbai. It aims to combat the issue of hunger through relief efforts and advocacy initiatives. The organization started as a relief operation during the Covid-19 lockdown in Mumbai and became one of the most extensive crisis management operations in the city.

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