"In the last two months, since lockdown began, I haven't received a single call from my employers asking me how my family and I were coping under lockdown, what we were eating -- forget about sending money and all," Kumari sighs.
A native of Ongole in Andhra Pradesh, Kumari works as a domestic worker in almost five houses at RTC colony in Hyderabad. She stays and works in the city to ensure that she has enough money to educate her only daughter, who is now an Intermediate student.
Kumari works as a cook in three houses and as a domestic worker in two other houses. She earns approximately Rs.15,000 a month. Of this, Rs.5,500 goes for rent and the rest for her daughter's education and household expenses.
"Since the last two months it has become very difficult to survive. None of my employers have come forward to help. We do not have any other source of income. With the meagre salaries, we could not even save much. We are depending on the rice and the money which the state government gave to the poor," added Kumari.
The situation is the same with several people who work as domestic workers. Since the lockdown began, several apartments and gated communities have stopped allowing anyone from outside, including domestic workers. Though there are many families that are still paying their domestic workers, many do not, leaving them to struggle during the lockdown.
Even with some lockdown restrictions being eased, the Telangana government doesn't want to take a chance. A recent circular from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) once again advised residents not to avail the services of domestic workers as the city is still a COVID-19 red zone.
As a result, several domestic workers are in a deplorable condition, without any income to survive. And some of them are not even asking for help from their employers.
"How do I ask them for money when I haven't worked there? I am feeling guilty to ask them and to take money for the work that I did not do. If they had given voluntarily by seeing our situation, we would have felt happy. But we cannot ourselves demand money from them," said another domestic worker, Vijaya Lakshmi.
Vijaya Lakshmi normally works in five households in Trimulgherry as a domestic worker and makes Rs 10,000 at the end of every month. Of this, Rs 4,000 goes as rent and Rs 6,000 goes for her two children's education and household expenses.
Even in this lockdown some domestic workers have expressed a sigh of relief that their house owners are not forcing them to pay rent. However, they are worried that this would only become a burden later on, which they have to clear in the coming months, one way or the other.
Some of the domestic workers have received money only partially, for the days that they worked till the lockdown was announced.
"We have received money only for the number of days that we worked in the month of March, and there was no work since then, there was no payment for April at all," said another domestic worker from New Malakpet.