Twenty-three year old Amir Sohail wants to hug his son and get a good night's sleep on his charpai in the courtyard of his house in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. He is just waiting for the promised bus to take him there.
After a nearly 40-day ordeal of skimming for food, Sohail, a migrant worker, is tired and all his hopes are now depended on the bus the government has said will ferry him home from Surat in Gujarat where he has been stranded due to the lockdown.
"I just want to go home now. We have been struggling here. There is hardly any food. I keep thinking if I should have tried to return earlier like the others. But I am no good to my family if dead. I just hope I can return to my son. I want to hug him," said Sohail, who stitched clothes at a factory before the lockdown.
The ministry of home affairs on Wednesday issued a fresh set of guidelines to let migrant workers, students, tourists and pilgrims stranded in different parts of the country to get back home.
The inter-state movement of these stranded people will be facilitated by the state/UT governments by road only, the order stated. Anyone willing to be transported back home will have to be medically screened at the source as well as destination and will be kept in a home or institutional quarantine on arrival, the home ministry guidelines said.
Suman who works as a labourer in Nagpur, Maharashtra had decided to walk back to his home in Meghnagar, Madhya Pradesh but was restrained by fellow workers after they got to know that some like them had been detained by the police.
"I was ready to walk it. I was tired of waiting for food and basic necessities. When we earned, whatever little we did, we lived on our own terms. Here, we have to beg for everything. Now, when the buses come, I want to be the first to get on it. While I have been here for seven months, never have I longed for home like this," he said.
"This uncertainty of the lockdown has made me long for the safety of my house. The first thing I would do when I get home is eat food cooked by my mother," the 22-year-old said.
While the protocols for ferrying these migrants will be chalked out in the next couple of days, workers stranded in distant lands are restless and want to ensure that their names feature on the lists of those granted access to the buses.
"I was told we need a pass for it. Where will I get the pass? Can you tell me please. I don't want to miss this opportunity to go home," said 34-year-old Ramnath, a labourer from Bihar's Muzaffarpur who is stuck in Mangalore with 21 other migrant workers since the lockdown.
Ramnath, who has two children back home, never again wants to come back if he gets work in his home state.
The MHA in its order has stated that state governments need to coordinate with each other to facilitate the movement of the migrant workers. It is not clear how that will be achieved, but migrants from different parts of the country hope that their respective chief ministers won't let them down.
"We saw on TV that our CMs will help us get back. I hope they do something quickly. I am ready to go however they take me, on a bus, train or car. I just want to leave. There is no food and no money," said 23-year old Avinash Kumar from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh who works as a labourer in Nagpur.
Others like him -- Ramashankar and Guddu stuck in Surat, Urmila Devi from Lakhisarai stranded in Faridabad, Anita Devi in Gurgaon -- are all waiting for the buses to take them home to their loved ones.