Father’s Day during COVID-19

Frontline Dads on balancing work and family during pandemic


Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | June 20

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges, Father’s Day will be nothing like the ones we have experienced in our lifetime. Among the many frontliners who are risking their lives every day, are also fathers, going out of their way, proving once again, that dads will always be heroes.

On the eve of Father’s Day, The Morung Express spoke with a Drug Inspector, a Journalist and a Pharmacist, who are efficiently carrying out their duties while playing the role of a father at the same time.

“Given the present circumstances, we have to make a lot of sacrifices. I just miss the time spent with family; at this time, not being able to be there for my children, not being able to help them in their studies. I miss being there, playing and having fun with them,” says Ethungo Ezung, who has been in the frontline ever since the outbreak of the pandemic.

A Drug Inspector by profession and father of two, Ethungo is part of the Kohima CMO Coordination Team and for the last couple of months, has been involved with “bits and pieces in the administration, accounting, management of staff, a little bit of counseling” in his words. As opposed to normal days, “we have to be at work sometimes by 8:00 in the morning and go home late in the evening, normally around 6:00 pm,” he states. However, if there is any emergency, “it can go on,” he adds.

When the need arises, working on Sundays has also become a ‘new normal’ for him. “But I am hoping against hope that nothing happens this Sunday”, he expresses. For him, the best part of being a father is simply “being there for my children (includes my wife).” Sharing that children look up to their fathers with hope, Ethungo adds that “This is something that I enjoy but it is also one of the challenges of being a father.”

He further conveys that, “As a parent, a father, and a husband, family is our priority. But for those in the frontline, our work is more important.”

“We are called for that,” he says, and adds that “this season will pass by and we should do our best, give our best, so that when we look back after a few years, we will do so with satisfaction, and not look back and think, ‘I was a coward’ and be ashamed of it, but be proud that we there when needed.”

Regardless of the pandemic, journalists are working every day of their lives although COVID-19 has posed greater challenges as pointed out by Narain B Sagar. He just completed 20 years of his journalistic career on June 1 this year. “Sometimes, we are scared. We have to be in places which are not safe and those are instances when it becomes scary,” he states. However, he believes that it is by God’s grace and the prayers of his children that have kept him unharmed thus far.

A journalist with The Press Trust of India (PTI) and father of two children, he relates how they would often remind him—“don’t go to unsafe places or get too close to sick people.”

With unpredictable work timings for a journalist, which sometimes, starts very early or ends too late, Narain B Sagar says, those are days, he feels bad for not being able to give them time or help them in their studies.

But the best part of being a father, he recounts is “getting back home and kids being there, waiting, and always remembering us when we are out also.” “Especially my eight year old daughter would sometimes stay up late and wait for me to come home,” he adds.

For Azolie Shüya, a pharmacist with the 14th NAP (IR) and currently posted in Purulia district of West Bengal, one of his greatest joys as a father is “looking at our children growing up and doing their work, and my wife, being a God-fearing woman brings me joy.”

The father of four children has been serving for 18 years under Nagaland Police and this is his second posting at Purulia. “Generally, if we look at the civil set up, we, as pharmacists only dispense drugs prescribed by doctors, but since we are in the police, where there are shortage of manpower, we also carry out other duties,” he highlights. Shüya is currently on Quarantine duty where 28 of their jawans are being quarantined.

Over the last 18 years, he has got used to living away from home, but articulates, “of course, we miss our families, we want to be with them and sometimes, and it is tough.” His wife and children live in Kohima and whenever he gets holidays, he expresses, “I try to spend as much quality time as possible with them and when it’s time to leave, my children would ask, “when are you coming home? Sometimes, they send me postcards when I am away.” The comforting thing however is, “we keep each other in prayers,” he puts across while enunciating that, “I have a lovely family that prays for me, even my parents and in-laws.”