Fareed, 55, is a small-time business owner selling household items for the past six years. Days into the lockdown, supermarket online delivery slots were fully occupied. When he heard from his friends, there was a need for a milkman to deliver dairy, he willingly volunteered, knowing well the inadequacy and inefficiency of delivery services due to the overwhelming orders. Although people often use motorbikes, bicycles or three-wheelers for delivery, Fareed revamped his new car into a delivery vehicle to fit his social cause.
Fareed would set out early in the morning by 6 am to deliver milk. He worked tirelessly tending to the needs of the elderly, quarantined/self- isolated populations, religious places of worship like the kovil for their weekly ‘pooja’, orphanages, frontline workers and the general public. He would reach home by 11 pm. He says these were some of the hardest days of his life. Delivery rounds would take a lot longer to complete, with orders coming in continuously throughout the day. And this physical labour and lack of sleep took a toll on his body too. Regardless, Fareed says he is more than willing to contribute and do his bit for the community.
As time went on, Fareed started noticing young children looking dull and irritable during his routine delivery trips. To bring some joy to them, he would buy them candy and other sweets. Soon, he became a popular ‘uncle’ among the kids. At the sight of his red car, they would gather around, waiting for their day’s treat. Little do we know about the joy you would get from watching a red car come by. Ask the children who were stuck at home with no school and no friends to play with, and they will paint you a different story altogether. The children would make ‘thank you’ cards too, which he cherishes.
Fareed acknowledges the unity that was shared during these times fighting a common enemy. Race, religion, class and other prejudices had no place at a time like this, he reflects in hindsight. He hopes we can all co-exist in the future with the same unity and brotherhood.