First-hand experience: ‘As I battle the horrific virus, I realise the dire need to stand together’

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I never imagined I would be witness to times like these -- times when people would be scurrying for medicines and oxygen from pillar to post.

Author: Mayank Muley

When I was much younger and realised that I love writing, I thought I would have my own writing space online and use it to chronicle and share with the world events and experiences of my life that impacted me and stirred my imaginations. I thought I would write about experiences that I would wish to lock in my words, memorialized forever.

I have often scribbled on my blog — mayankscribbles — to describe things of beauty, and feelings of love and sorrow. However, I never knew I would use my love for words to record something so ugly, so horrible, bearing all the marks of utter moral bankruptcy and loss of humanity around me.

As I write this, the world around me is battling the Covid-19 pandemic, and so am I. I tested positive for the virus a few days back.

It’s a little past midnight, and though the silence around me makes me feel like everyone has called it a day and retired to their beds, I am often jolted out of this misbelief by the blaring blues-and-twos of an ambulance whizzing away on the road near my apartment, every couple of minutes or so.

The stillness of the night is being repeatedly violated by the disturbing sirens of the vehicles that might be carrying patients battling for their lives.

I never imagined I would be witness to times like these — times when people would be scurrying for medicines and oxygen from pillar to post, and unscrupulous dealers of the same would let their hearts take a backseat, and blatant profiteering in the name of excessive overcharging would rule their sense of business ethics.

I have experienced, and am currently experiencing, the horrors that the virus forces you to go through. A couple of days ago, I lay in bed trying to talk to various doctors over WhatsApp, to convince them that I was in urgent need of oxygen. I pray that no one goes through the devastation that those battling the virus are going through.

I gasped for breath as I hoped that I would get oxygen at the earliest. In an attempt to conserve the little energy I had left in me, I refused to utter a sound.

As I lay in bed, feeling helpless and restless, I realised that I never imagined that there would be times when hospitals would be so overcrowded that patients would have to face unfriendly, cold refusal for admission, often waiting for a bed and then succumbing to their unattended and thus aggravating medical condition, right outside the very facilities that were made to salvage life and add some months and years to a person’s life.

As I fought the virus, I was devastated at the thought that I never imagined living in times when middle class and poor families’ limited savings would be squeezed right to the very last ounce, not just to buy the needed life-supporting kit but also to convince an ambulance driver to ferry them to the hospital at an usually extortionate ride fare.

In the absence of resources, people have been seen carrying their dead family member(s) wedged in between a driver and a pillion rider riding a two-wheeler. How much more gut-wrenching can things get?

These are times when spaces to perform the final rites of the dead are running out, and people are forced to bribe the priests and staff at the so-called ‘moksh-dwar’ to get some wood and space for arranging the funeral pyre and related practices.

In the midst of all this, as usual, it is generally the rich and the powerful and the well-connected who are able to secure what is needed, with more ease. I wonder if all lives are equally important.

I do not know when we became so exposed to vulnerabilities and debasing morality of such extent, and despite being Covid-positive, I’m doing everything in my power to help others. My heart goes out to the people who have to see their loved ones leave this world, often in undignified, painful ways, either due to lack money or availability of resources or both.

I hope we tide through this phase with minimum damage and maximum learning, and that this wave of misfortune paves way for a better, stronger and more well-equipped world citizenry, regulatory practices, infrastructure and overall development of ethics and good humanity.

As I battle the virus, I realise that now, more than ever, is the time to look out for each other, lend a helping hand to the needy, and spread love. Now is the time to stand together.

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