Our Frontline Heroes: A story by Preethi Warrier

It was late in the evening when she returned from work. Wading through a sea of shanties, thankfully with a lesser crowd, she hurried into hers. Her children came rushing to greet her, but she shooed them off politely, couldn’t touch them till she was cleaned up.

It was while cooking dinner that she felt the first bout of nausea. Before she could call out for help, giddiness struck again and she was down on the floor.

Her husband knocked at many doors, called the rickshaws to carry her to hospital, but they knew where she worked. The ambulance was called, they arrived in special suits, she was taken all alone, her teary-eyed family advised to stay away till the doctors were sure.

Dawn broke, she opened her eyes, to find her husband beside her.

“Don’t worry, you’re fine. They checked you and called me. It’s not what they thought, we are going home. Just get some rest.” he comforted her.

She rose in silence. Though it was all a bit hazy, she could mildly recollect the events of last evening, her neighbors’ refusal, their suspicion, the widespread fear…

She spoke drily, “Can’t rest, they need me at my hospital. With lots of people coming in for check-ups lately and some of them being admitted, the floors have to be wiped all the time, the rooms have to be fumigated…Sigh.”

He cut her mid-way, “ What’s wrong?” 

“It’s just that I work round the clock, do so much for everyone and this is how they repay me?” she was upset.

“Hey, trust me. There’s not a single day that goes by without me, my parents, your parents, our children, everyone who knows us, telling me what a great job you are doing. We all love you, respect you no end. You are our HERO, and heroes don’t bother about what others think of them. Eventually, they’ll all realize, so cheer up.” 

He dropped her home on his cycle, it was almost seven.

“Let me rush, I’m already running late. Got to collect milk packets from the dealer and ride to that housing society. There are almost a hundred households waiting for me to start their day.” He sped off.

She watched him go and smiled to herself. He was her Hero, delivering essential services at their doorsteps during the pandemic.

Him and her, they weren’t rich, they weren’t highly qualified. But they stepped out of the comforts of their homes, every day, risking their lives, so everyone else could stay indoors and quarantine.
 So they were front line heroes as well, right?