BENGALURU: Good morning Bangalore.
Unfortunately this greeting is going to be the only upbeat thing that I am going to be sharing with you today. My feeling buoyant and sanguine has once again taken a severe beating. I cannot justify using ‘cutesy’ terminology like ‘Cardi-V’ survivor or ‘Co-beater’ without squirming. I was just plain lucky! My privilege, standing and connections, gave me access to the finest hospitals, doctors and medication this city had to offer. Others were not as lucky, and continue not to be so.
There are people like you and me (perhaps less privileged) working professionals, doctors and the working class that make up the bulk of our infra-structure and without whom we cannot survive, dying like flies, outside hospitals, in ambulances and some even on the roads. The hospitals are silent testaments of a failed society with no beds, no oxygen and with lifesaving medicine in short supply, or simply available only on the black market. As people, we are familiar with misery, shortages, fear, corruption and pestilence. We have been well ‘trained’ by successive governments on how not to complain or raise our voices in protest or face swift retribution.
If we pay a myriad of taxes, luxury taxes, different cesses etc., work hard and be good law abiding citizens, aren’t we entitled to the basic right to ask for and be given a modicum of health protection by our ‘(wo)men in white,’ or is that too much to ask? It seems that ‘the powers to be’ march nonchalantly to the beat of their own drum! They had over a year to prepare and stock pile for an emergency just like this one… and even then there is a shortage of oxygen that compels patients to choke to death, or life saving medicines that have mysteriously disappeared off the shelves, and hospitals that don’t have beds for the people dying on their doorstep! Who then should be held accountable? Are we mere lambs to be led to the slaughter and be milked dry by forcing us to contribute to mysterious ‘We Care’ funds (ostensibly to tide over the crisis) that are not even audited! So there stands a dilemma.
As people are used to a lack of amenities; shortages (real and false), lack of basic infrastructure, education, and I could go on and on ad-nauseam. But if the state purposefully fails its people by diverting funds for medical facilities and does not keep a check on artificial shortages of essential drugs and willfully creates situations where the pandemic reaches epic proportions where people die like proverbial flies then isn’t it an act of willful murder? Will we ever have the courage to say it? Horrifying stories abound every-day. I saw a heart-breaking video of a doctor with two old parents in an ambulance begging for a hospital room. His father eventually died in the ambulance after being turned away by 16 hospitals because they lacked oxygen supplies. He said he was tempted to asphyxiate his mother who was gasping to breathe just to put her out of her misery.
This is an unsung frontline worker who worked with the Covid-19 afflicted for a year! A young girl Rohini Iyer won my eternal respect by posting about privilege. Some excerpts are as follows; ‘For all of you vacationing in Maldives, Goa and other exotic locales, remember, it’s a holiday for you. It’s a bloody pandemic all over. So don’t be an insensitive idiot and post pictures of your privileged life. This is not a time to boost your Instagram numbers. No photos! This is not fashion week or Kingfisher calendar time’! Good for you girl. It is almost grotesque to post such pictures. Almost as bad as a picture I saw of the underprivileged licking scraps off half-eaten plates at a huge marriage pandal. Stay focused and real. Its fellow human-beings dying out there!