This is the first time she came out of her village, and it will be her last, vowed Raji Devi as she watched, with tears blurring her vision, a bus carrying migrant workers drove away into the distance. The elderly woman, perhaps in her 70s, is among the thousands of migrants across the country waiting in seemingly never-ending queues in their desperation to reach home.
The woman and her family were among the people waiting at a community centre in Haryana's Gurgaon Sector 9A from where state transport buses were taking stranded migrants to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, reported news agency PTI.
The family - waiting to return to their village in Uttar Pradesh's Bhadohi - couldn't get a seat on the bus as they were allotted on a first-come-first-served basis and the family missed their turn.
The disappointment was almost too much to handle for the elderly woman, who held her son's hands and told him she won't be back and it's okay if he's not there for her last rites either.
"Betua ab hum kabhi nahi aiyai tu beshak humka kandha den bhi mat aiyai. Humka nahi dekhna shehar (Son, I won't come back. It's okay if you are not there to shoulder my bier. I don't want to see the city again)," she said, in a Hindi dialect from her region, to her son.
Her son Sahab Lal brought her to Gurgaon a few months ago as he wanted to give her a glimpse of his life in the city, however, the nationwide lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus scuttled his plans, leaving him jobless.
The Yogi Adityanath government has announced that it will send 12,000 buses to ferry stranded migrants from Uttar Pradesh back home. District magistrates will be provided 200 buses each to arrange for their travel. This will add up to 15,000 additional buses in 75 districts, said sources.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also agreed to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's request for Congress to run 1,000 buses for migrant workers. The state government wrote to the Congress leader's office asking for details of the buses, their numbers and drivers' names.