Vedika teaches at a private school in Noida. Since the beginning of the lockdown, her salary got reduced and also gets delayed often. At least she is happy that she is able to retain her job. Every month, the first few days, she spends in great anxiety. She doesn’t have any saving. Along with her husband, she took a home loan two years back. And she is completely dependent on her salary to make the ends meet. Above all, her financial independence corresponds to her personal independence and she doesn’t want to lose it. If she doesn’t get the salary, she would still manage to get food, but what she fears the most- is the loss of her self-respect. She doesn’t want to hear again-Tum Karti hi kya ho ( Is there a worth of what you do?). It’s been a decade now since she has stopped being ridiculed.First few days of the month, until she receives the salary, pass in anxiety. The anxiety-whether she would receive the salary or not, whether she would be able to retain her job or not. News of employees being fired pouring in from different parts of the country, threatens her very existence. Once the salary gets credited to her account, the panic subsides for the next few weeks.
She gets up in the morning at 7 am. Within 10 minutes, she enters the kitchen. It takes around half an hour to prepare tea and some snacks for her family. In between, she keeps reminding her husband to help their daughter brush her teeth. Sometimes, it works, sometimes, it doesn’t. While taking tea, she schedules her class and sends links to students on WhatsApp groups. At 8:45 the classes begin.She shuts the door. At 9:30, she enters into the kitchen and put rice to boil, wash vegetables. Meanwhile, it’s 10 am. It’s time for the next class. At 10:45, she rushes back to her kitchen and switches on the gas stove. At 11:30, she rushes back again for her next class, requesting her husband to switch off the gas after three whistles in cooker. At 12:30, she gets back to the kitchen and gives finishing touches to the meal. It’s 1 pm, she takes her daughter for a bath. While giving her a bath, she is already half wet herself, then she takes the bath and feeds her daughter. By the time she returns back to her room, it’s almost 2:30 pm. This is now the time of entering into the new era of conferences and meetings- The webinar. Schools make it compulsory to be a part of the Webinar. Not only on zoom but one also has to register his/her presence on Facebook so that the number of audiences watching online could increase. On her laptop, she logs in to the webinar and simultaneously on her phone, she watches it on the social media page of her school. As if that’s not enough, in every few minutes, she has to write- ‘Vedika is watching’. The ‘webinar -worriers’ ensure active participation by asking the participants to write in the chatbox. Webinars, scheduled for two hours, often shoots up to three hours. With a passing smile, the presenter says- “because of the lack of time I couldn’t go into the details, Kindly write in to me if you have a query!” So far, the school has not made it compulsory to write back to the presenter. They may do this as well… who knows?
On a day, when there are no webinars, there is a meeting called by the subject head, coordinator and sometimes even by the principal. The webinars and meetings don’t have any holiday calendar.
It’s 5:30 pm. She gets back to the kitchen, boil milk for her daughter and takes few snacks for herself and returns back to her workstation cum bed. This is the time to receive calls from students, parents and colleagues. In between, she prepares the dinner while speaking on the phone continuously. By 8:30 pm, she switches off the light and makes her daughter sleep. The more time her daughter takes to sleep the more agitated she feels. There is more work left. By 9:30 pm, she gets back to the hall and opens her laptop again. While everyone else is sleeping, she keeps awaked. This is the time to look for relevant audio-video material and prepare PPT to make her online class more interesting and engaging. This is also the time to prepare the assignments and evaluate the ones which were submitted by the students. This is also the time to do residual work which other agencies like SCERT and CBSE have forced upon the teachers considering that they are ‘free’. SCERT is forcing teachers to evaluate its online content available on Diksha Portal without paying a single penny. Several other NGOs and even Publishers are forcing teachers to all such works that teachers are not supposed to do. Or if they do, at least they should be paid for it. It’s 2 am at night when she finally gets back to her bed. In between, her daughter had come to her, half asleep. Usually then Mama works on computer the daughter watches YouTube videos at night. And all this, when administration, parents and other agencies think that ‘schools are closed and teachers are free’.