Lockdown Stories: The Waterman

COVID and Lockdown

In a land not so far away, the pandemic struck real hard. A lockdown was enforced in various parts of the world, bringing life to a halt. Hundreds were laid off and unemployment hit them like a ton of bricks. It seemed like everywhere you looked, there were people struggling to stay afloat. And this is a story of one such individual who lives in a slum where life is already a tale of misery.

Now the thing with such shoddy housing is the deprivation of basic amenities and an overwhelming abundance of people. It always comes as a surprise as to how many can actually fit into these tiny, makeshift houses. They usually have at least six to seven members crammed up in one, little hut!

If there is anything that surpasses the abundance of these residents, it’s the recycled, blue water-cans that you’ll see lying around. Kids of all ages run about in the dirt, playing and fetching water as a part of their everyday routine. But how many rounds does one make for water? Water, that is supposedly a basic necessity.

The Waterman

Now, this is where our man comes in. Meet Razzak! For the one coincidental time that we met, I forgot to ask him where he used to work before COVID hit. However, I won’t lie, it’s truly extraordinary that he came up with such an entrepreneurial yet simple solution to an everyday problem. While many of us suffered huge losses, he made more than he used to thanks to this idea!

So it all began during the lockdown when his seth (سیٹھ) asked him not to show up anymore. “I can have anyone do what you do. Why should I pay you?” That’s what I’m assuming the standard seth response was.

But Razzak, who has never seen the inside of a classroom, let alone possess any business knowledge, wasn’t the one to mourn or look back. Getting laid off with nothing else to fall back onto, a family of seven and a donkey to feed in the middle of a pandemic would make anyone’s nerves rattle. Not his. Instead, he figured that the people in his jhoparpatti could use his donkey’s services for their everyday water needs.

Clean drinking water was rare and difficult to come by in his neighbourhood. The kids sometimes fetched it from a masjid close by and sometimes from public taps, neither of which are sources of quality drinking water. As soon as he came up with this idea, he was able to strike a deal with a nearby filtration plant and the rest is history. 

The Saviour We Need

He now supplies pure drinking water to his neighbours at affordable rates, collecting their empty cans and filling them with purified water. He is providing this service at just Rs. 10 per can, with an additional Rs. 20 for the water. God knows how many trips he makes, but he’s making more money with every single one of them!

Razzak made Rs.880 on the day these photos were taken. That’s almost double the daily wages he got from his previous employer.

I have to say that it is an innovative spirit like Razzak’s that makes sure this world of ours doesn’t run out of ideas!

Do you have any other inspiring lockdown stories? Let us know in the comments below!

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