Contributors

Atifa Begum Choudhury, BHW
Bandita Devi, ANM

Bobi Borgohain, ANM

Binita Kalita, ANM

Dasami Kalita, ANM

Junu Bora, ASHA

Kalpana Mahanta, ASHA

Kanika Saloi, ANM

Deepanjali Devi, ANM

Kalpana Barman, ASHA

Kunja Kakati, ANM

Jurimoni Talukdar, SW

Maheshwari Das, ASHA

Minoti Das, ANM

Minoti Talukdar, ANM

Minu Kalita, ANM

Nandita Kalita, ASHA

Putuli Pal, ASHA

Reema, ASHA

Shenawajee Bora, SW

Sahidul Islam, Pharmacist, RBSK

Sanjib Dutta, SW

Subhas Baishya

Tariquddin Hazarika, MPW

*ANM: Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery
BHW: Basic Health Worker
MPW: Multi-Purpose Worker
SW: Surveillance Worker 

*Scroll over the image to view contributor names. 

Women at Work: Healthcare Workers
Assam

This particular photo series from healthcare professionals in Guwahati, Assam — nurses, ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activist), surveillance workers, multipurpose workers, etc. — foregrounds different constructions of the question of documenting from within. 

 

The photographers here have visually narrated their everyday experiences as community health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve also done so poetically. If you read the poems, you get a deeper insight into how they’ve exercised these two creative mediums, to express their current emotions: 

 

No longer do I see what my child eats during the day,

My days are consumed with caring for the sick

Nights are spent in hospitals and health care centres.

Corona Warriors—Niru Kalita

 

I am worried that once this crisis is over

Will the world start dividing along the lines of religion again?

Will you come back again?

 

You, Corona!—Minu Kalita

 

 

But also to continue doing their jobs, one of which is to raise community awareness: 

 

To save yourself from being wounded in this war,

Maintain social distancing, wear masks, wash your hands

If you do not follow medical instructions, you will be wounded.

Listening to healthcare professionals is the only way to emerge victorious in this war!

 

Overcoming the Corona Crisis!—Kalpana Mahanta

 

 

The social function of photography is evident here as the series compels us to be more conscious of the working conditions of grassroots healthcare workers, as they continue providing indispensable services during the pandemic. 

 

The series also makes us reflect on the process of documentary photography and the aesthetics involved in image-making. 

 

Thank you to all the contributors. 

 

 

*While the exhibition is open only to women, queer, trans and other marginalised identities of Northeast India, we have three submissions from their male co-workers, whose contributions are nevertheless valuable and included here.

Dear Corona

 

We’ve never heard of you before

But you are all that people speak of now.

Village, town and city — you are on the tip of everyone’s tongues

We spend sleepless nights 

As you creep into our lives

Forcing us to face death and mortality.

You have made humanity suffer

You’ve made healthcare workers suffer even more

As our days and nights melt into each other.

 

Dear Corona, here is my appeal to you

Please go away to the country of the unknown and the unseen.

Never to return to this planet again

And let us have one good night’s sleep.

 

 

Corona: A Guide to Respite!

 

I am Corona

I come from a distant land, far away from here.

You cannot see me

Yet you have to stay away from me.

 

I have come to destroy you

To save yourself, stay away.

There’s only trouble if you come near me

And social distancing is the only way out.

 

Wash your hands, wear a mask,

Then, maybe, you have a chance against me.

 

 

Overcoming the Corona Crisis!

 

We sat together on the verandah that day

We spoke, we laughed, we ate together.

Kids played in the backyard

Young people enjoying each other’s company.

And now…? What is this sudden war we are thrust into?

 

To save yourself from being wounded in this war,

Maintain social distancing, wear masks, wash your hands.

If you do not follow medical instructions, you will be wounded.

Listening to healthcare professionals is the only way to emerge victorious in this war!

 

 

Kalpana Mahanta

ASHA, Kharghuli, 

Guwahati-04, Assam

 

 

Corona Warriors

 

We are the Corona warriors

We have no religion.

We only have our humanity

Saving people is our religion.

We’ve left the comforts of our home 

And the joy of spending time with our family and friends.

 

No longer do I see what my child eats during the day,

My days are consumed with caring for the sick

Nights are spent in hospitals and healthcare centres.

Putting my exhaustion on the back burner

Waiting for these days to get over.

 

Niru Kalita

ASHA Worker

East Guwahati State Dispensary

 

 

Waiting for the Good Days 

 

Waiting for good days to come

When the Corona crisis will finally end.

Lakhs of people may have already embraced death

Lakhs of people still living in fear

Tears, exhaustion and despair are all we see now

Are you a monster, Corona?

 

Doctors, ASHAs, nurses

Are on the brink of mental and physical exhaustion

And waiting for a break 

In this struggle between nature and humankind.

 

Hoping for better days

When we can finally emerge victorious

Waiting for better days

When the end of Corona is finally here.

 

Mukut Kalita

Ayurvedic College

 

 

You, Corona!

 

Corona, you

Have shut down all temples, masjids and churches

Hospitals have emerged 

As new places of worship.

There are no religious divides or pride here

Where medicine tries to bridge the gap

And encourages solidarity among all.

 

We are all looking out for each other

As people go hungry in this crisis

You have brought us together in solidarity

As we struggle against you.

 

I am worried that once this crisis is over

Will the world start to divide along the lines of religion again?

Will you come back again?

If we refuse to learn to accept the humanity of all

And remain cocooned in our selfish worlds?

 

Minu Kalita

ANM, East Guwahati State Dispensary 

Translated by Bidisha Mahanta

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