Jeena yahan, marna yahan

Last week’s white rage has been replaced with black humour this week. Heads are spinning! Is this really happening? Or are we living on the sets of a B-Grade horror film? I figured I was only harming myself by getting worked up — nothing we say, write or express, is going to make the slightest difference. The authorities have hit a new besharam low that makes the rest of us cringe — but does not touch our netas. No matter how angry and upset we are — kuch farak nahi padta. It is we who are cowering in fear, sitting at home and wondering, “Will I be next to die?” We are using our own limited resources to help one another in whichever way possible. No amount of money can procure the desperately needed bed. Try calling any of the hospitals or helplines… nobody picks up the phone! Try getting an ambulance. Try asking for an oxygen cylinder — it is more precious/ rare than the Kohinoor.

Fear has replaced anger. Both emotions serve no purpose, and yet, we are all human — what do we do? I have a simple coping mechanism for myself, and it works most of the time. When low — distract! Avoid all fresh ‘breaking news’ about Covid this and Covid that. Stop visiting Covid websites for updates. Stay away from Covid bakwas — all those people with their own expert theories and remedies. I cannot bear conversations that start with, “OMG! Have you heard who just tested positive?” No, I haven’t heard, and don’t want to know. Aap apna khayal rakho, na? There is a sadistic glee when random people discuss who has it, who doesn’t, and which building has been sealed.

This could so easily be converted into a time for genuine family bonding — we are stuck together during emotionally crippling lockdowns, with no real choice, and no escape. This precious ‘together’ time may never come back — why not invest positive emotions in one another — get to better know the persons you share your life with in these precarious times, when nothing and no one can be taken for granted.

I have started chasing all things beautiful — sunsets, in particular. And blogs celebrating beauty in its myriad forms — art, architecture, textiles, jewellery, paintings, wild life. Music soothes like nothing else can — from Italian opera to Bhimsen Joshi. This is my armour. You must have yours. When I stumble upon heart breaking videos of people coping with the tragic loss of a loved one, I wonder — do our netas not see the level of grief and despair around them? Are their hearts made of stone? How do they sleep at night, knowing the city is dying?

What does a grief-stricken family member who has watched a loved one gasp and die without getting oxygen, feel while watching our Prime Minister calmly trotting out past achievements of his government while telling citizens to fend for themselves during this cataclysmic second surge. Eight months ago, Dr Rajesh Parikh had warned us about the second wave, saying, “We should not repeat the mistakes we’ve made till now!” We made even graver ones! He had pointed out that during the Influenza epidemic (1918-1919), the second and third waves were far worse! Will we never learn?

Highly educated people who have had to shut down their businesses, have taken to selling whatever they are able to — like Ratnagiri mangoes. A young and hard working son of a tuition teacher reached out to me asking whether I wanted to buy mangoes from him. Thousands of jobless people are switching to alternative earning models. It’s that, or starvation.

In such a grim scenario, how can some people even think of profiteering! But it’s happening — people are selling oxygen canisters at exorbitant rates. Labs are demanding 7k or more for Covid tests. Beds are being sold at totally unaffordable prices. Patients are turned away unless their relatives produce hard cash. Remdesivir is being sold in black and available to the fortunate few who can shell out 13,500 per tablet. Mass scale looting at a time like this? A patient attacked a helpless nurse with the blunt end of a knife — what was her crime? Dr Manisha Jadhav (51), a senior medical officer, wrote a poignant ‘farewell’ Facebook post, and was gone a few hours later. 17,975 doctors in Maharashtra have contracted

Covid-19, and 168 succumbed. Frontline workers are not being offered adequate insurance cover.

Cops across India are dealing the best they can — a big salaam to warriors like five months pregnant DSP Shilpa Sahu (Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada town), who heads a band of women commandos fighting Maoists. She refuses to stay home. But our Chief Minister and the Prime Minister are brazenly lecturing us on our ‘responsibilities’ and saying it’s all our fault for not staying home. Bhaisaab — first demonstrate your responsibility, na??



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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