GUWAHATI: In rural India, one does not have to fish for innocence. It simply floats up, even during tough times like these.
Last week, a villager who was suffering from an illness visited the government-run Block Primary Health Centre in Northern Assam’s Udalguri town to get medicines.
As he was not wearing anything to cover his face, the “sister” (nurse) at the medicine counter advised the man to go and buy a mask first. He left and returned soon but with a fish ('maas' in Assamese), evoking laughter.
The man has not been identified and hence could not be reached for comment but a senior health official confirmed the incident occurred three days ago.
“The man was at the medicine counter. The sister there asked him why he had ventured out without wearing a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. She advised him to buy a mask from a pharmacy and then get his medicines. He left but returned with a fish,” Joint Director of Health, Udalguri, Dr. Tayabur Rahman, told The New Indian Express.
He said the health worker gifted the man a mask and asked him to take home the fish he had bought from a market. Later, he left with the fish and the medicines, Dr. Rahman added.
Other English terms used by the government in its awareness drives on the pandemic have also been misunderstood by a section of people in rural Assam and perhaps in other parts of the country too.
To Abdul Ali, a rickshaw puller from Lower Assam’s Barpeta who ekes out a living in Guwahati, quarantine means “a hospital which is akin to a jail from where people cannot go out.”