‘Husband & I Lost Jobs In March; Survival Is Tough’

Young parents Rimpa Ghatak and her husband Manthu Roy were looking forward to join a Siliguri school as art teachers when the pandemic struck. Ghatak speaks about her struggle and hopes

As if to weather the pandemic with a young child was not enough, my husband and I both lost our jobs during the pandemic. Call it a twist of fate or whatever else but it has been difficult for us to make sense of the whole situation.

My husband Manthu Roy (35) and I both were employed as art teachers at a private residential school in Etawah, Uttar Pradesh and even had new job offers from a reputed school in Siliguri, West Bengal around December 2019. Since the offer was good and Bengal is known for its art appreciation, we decided to take a chance.

My husband, a PGT Fine Arts, and I had just about finished our notice period when the pandemic struck in March 2020. We had resigned from Etawah school and the Siliguri school, which we were supposed to join from new academic session, closed down like many other institutions. Between two stools, we fell to the ground.

Manthu Roy with some of his artworks

There was a time in March when I felt I was close to despair as I didn’t know what future was in store for my child, who was barely six months old. Our savings were dwindling. Given the strict lockdown, we couldn’t even go to our parents. Those were very difficult days from March to June. We had built up an atmosphere for art appreciation in Etawah but it couldn’t provide us even online classes so that we could earn money from it.

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Some of my husband’s students had got placed in premier institutes like NIFT (Kolkata), NID (Ahmedabad) etc. and they kept us motivated to carry on. Manthu and I flew from Etawah to Siliguri the first chance we got and moved in with my elder sister and her husband who also stay in Siliguri.

We managed to get a few online classes but the pandemic has been hard on everyone financially and learning art is not on top of people’s priority. Thus online classes haven’t been very fruitful financially. We have been networking actively on social media, but between household chores, caring for a young baby, doing artwork because you also need to keep on creating work to show after networking, it hasn’t been easy.

Rimpa Ghatak and Manthu Roy

Now, in October we hope something moves for us. It has been nearly seven months without work now. The school at Siliguri that we were supposed to join has been really nice to us and keeps us updated about the state of things.

Art has kept us sane during the pandemic as it has kept many other people sane during the pandemic. So many people have learnt new art forms during the lockdown. It is perhaps time India began to appreciate its artists and help them thrive, especially in the new scenario. We are all in this together, right? Wish us luck!

#MyVote2019 – ‘I Want Modi As PM, But…’

in bhar me 100 rupay ka petrol kharch ho jata hoga mera (I often end up spending `100 on fuel every day). I have been pursuing news and current affairs for several years. I know all about rise in international crude oil prices and OPEC countries production et al. I know about the American sanctions against Iran and the exemption given to India too. But I also believe that whatever the government is doing vis-à-vis the price rise of fuel is best for the nation. All economic/ national interest reasoning aside, the fuel cost still pinches on a personal level. I have to cut corners from the money that I earn by giving tuitions as well as the pocket money given by my family, so that I can manage petrol for my bike. I admit that on many counts I am happy with the current government. Modi ji is making a genuine effort to clean up the politics from the top. But he is often ill-advised when it comes to implementing certain avoidable decisions. Demonetisation, in my opinion, was a total failure.  Where’s the black money which Modi ji promised to bring back? Will he answer these questions when he comes here to ask for votes in 2019? I want to advise Modi ji to think twice before taking any big decision or making big promises in election rallies. I would like to see him become the PM again, but this time with certain checks and balances in place. I know right now there is nobody in our politics who deserves to be prime minister more than Modi ji. But he better choose a good cabinet and then use his time to take important decisions after getting an in-depth understanding of their impact on people’s lives. The Opposition needs to pull up their socks. They can beat many BJP leaders but they still have a long way to go to challenge Modi ji’s stature. They need to build a personality of their own and not one that is built in contrast to Modi ji’s personality.]]>