After serving as a cinema hall seat-pointer for over forty years, a man in his mid-60s has suddenly lost his job. He was quite fit in his work. He didn't feel any fatigue in continuing the job. But with the cinema house remaining shut for over one-and-half years due to repeated shutdowns, the management closed the hall. All staff members of that large complex one day found themselves jobless. The seat pointers' job is to help the movie-goers locate their designated seats as mentioned on the ticket. The look of a person engaged in the job is one clad in uniform, holding a torch-light and showing people their seats by throwing focus on them from the hall isle. There are at least five such staff at work before the start of shows at the cinema houses.
With the corona pandemic raging and the cinema halls remaining closed, hundreds of people on the payroll of different posts at these theatres can now be seen passing their days in untold miseries. Many have switched over to jobs not even remotely linked to the work at the cinema halls. This writer has found a middle-aged man pedalling a rickshaw-van on an alleyway in the scorching summer sun. Another elderly person, looking sickly and devastated, has been seen on another lane doing a similar job. Their activity comprises purchasing used or discarded electronic goods and related gadgets, and selling them to designated outlets at a little higher price. Many find it hard to command the physical strength, and the conversational skill needed for this work. Ironically, a lot of these people once served as salaried employees at cinema houses either in Dhaka or other smaller cities.
Thanks to the pandemic outbreak, the broader job scenario has long been in disarray. Losing their petty- or middle-income jobs, and trying futilely to land alternative ones, many have left the capital with their families and dependants. Of late, the unemployment situation in the country's urban areas has deteriorated literally to a terrible point. A non-government primary school teacher hawking newspapers or others selling plastic products or women's dresses and babywear are now common spectacles. A smart young room-cleaner at a commercial house, or the chief cook, and even the staff at the reception desk at a mid-rank hotel, a middle-aged guard or lift operator of a travel agency selling face-masks, hand sanitisersetc have also become 'new normal' sights in the city of Dhaka. To avoid embarrassment, these persons try to keep their voices as low as possible.
Amid these disheartening sights, there are many that point to the unbeatable nature of the human urge to find out ways to survive with dignity. This has been found among a section of the highly resilient and educated youths --- both in cities and villages. In rural areas, seeing no signs of immediate reopening of their small private sector offices or higher educational institutions, enterprising youths have embarked on small business ventures relying on small capitals. Many of them have tasted success in their humble efforts. A lot of others are struggling desperately to just overcome their teething problem. Sales of mostly women's wear are fast becoming part of online commerce. These dresses are commonly designed by young women now sitting idle at home; the response from the fashion-conscious clientele to these products gets warmer by the day.
In order to achieve or reach this point, many ragtag entrepreneurs have had to go through untold adversities. The pandemic-time stimulus distribution authorities ought to be made aware of these petty initiatives. It's because these bare survival endeavours, including those of the former cinema hall seat-pointers or a financially battered teacher are quite visible --- i.e. free of sleight.