“It’s been 15 years since I started my career as a barber. I never saw this coming – it’s a horrible time for us. My barbershop was closed for three months. Even after the lockdown was lifted partially, customers are scared to visit my shop. We have invested a lot in PPE kits, use and throw masks, sheets, face shields and other equipment for haircutting and shaving services. But there’s hardly any turnover. There was a rumour doing the rounds on social media about how a barber visit spreads COVID-19 to 50 customers and their families. Turns out, that was a false report! Such news spreads like wildfire and we are the ones taking the hit.
I have a family to feed. I have two daughters, a wife and an old mother who’s suffering from paralysis. I’m 10x more careful because I don’t want any infection to spread to my family. I sanitize the whole shop before closing, with hydrochloride, which was prescribed by the government. During the lockdown, we continued to pay rent and electricity bills for the house and shop. Today, I’m in a state where I have no clue if I will have enough money to feed my family in the next couple of weeks if this situation continues.
Most of my customers, who were corporate employees, are working from home. There’s no urgent need for them to look presentable with neatly cut hair or shave. There are no functions or weddings either. So the demand is much lesser. People don’t want to risk their lives and there’s not much you can do to convince them.
Two years ago, I started an NGO called Vi for Orphans Foundation. Every Tuesday when my shop is closed, I would go to old age homes and orphanages to provide free haircut and shaving services to the needy. They call me now, but I can’t go. What do I tell them? It’s such a sad state of affairs and it’s worse that nothing is in our control. I just want to assure people reading this that we are careful. I take all the precautions necessary to make sure my customers and I are safe. We have families too. Please support us by availing our services in whatever way possible.”
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