BENGALURU: Someone once said, “Nothing belongs to us. Even the air we breathe we must exhale.” I think these lines are even more poignant now. As people we are trying very hard to hold on to the remaining strands of civility, goodness and humaneness. But alas! Every day we come across or read about people doing the most unspeakable acts of hoarding lifesaving medicines, selling beds to gasping individuals and making large profits on oxygen.
It’s not as if these individuals are forced to indulge in this depravity to ease the burden on their families, or they desperately need the cash (even that is not a justification!). These are well-heeled businessmen and politicians who stoop to this level in this moment of an unprecedented crisis in our country. For shame! Many of these depraved individuals do it in the guise of philanthropy.
I often ask myself why they do it. Does the sight of people suffering, dying and grovelling for a breath of air make them feel superior; give them a God complex perhaps? But don’t these cretins realise that what they have is a black hole for a soul? As much as I try to put the pleas for distress behind me, as much as I try to raise my head above the waves of despair that threaten to drown me, and I much as I try to distract myself by cooking, meditating, and helping out, I still feel trapped! And then the universe decides that perhaps I need to feel the ‘real’ pain raging around us.
A perfectly healthy, non-smoking and drinking, football-playing young father and husband, my nephew, contracts the dreaded Cardi-V. How? No one can understand because he works from home and is extraordinarily careful for his severely asthmatic wife and young son. He gets immediate treatment and is shifted into the hospital in Mumbai because of slightly dipping oxygen levels and two weeks later lands up on a ventilator. There has been no carelessness in his care, Mumbai has beds and oxygenators and yet, this happens! The family rallies around from all over the world for this beloved couple.
My son flies in to be with his sister, my daughter and son-in-law, research institutions, new information on treatment and leverage just about every contact to help. We didn’t even know what an ECMO machine was but now we do. The family (mostly the youngsters) have cast a net of love and support and dogged perseverance around his wife and him. The best team is looking after him and we are praying for a miracle which looks like it might happen.
Young Kabir who sold veggies outside a store in our city was a hot favourite with all of us mostly because you couldn’t wipe that beaming smile of his face. His wife too helped sometimes and for the little I know he had young children. He died. And before him his wife died. Two young vibrant souls died. It was personal for a lot of us because we never imagined that when we last bought veggies from him that would be the last time we would see him or his wife alive. When and if we come out of this nightmare, the world will surely have changed. Not because of travel, weddings or parities or even work.
The picture kaleidoscope of people we knew and cared for will have holes... of those who went away and never came back! Again I wish I had spoken to Kabir more, and made the effort to swing past my nephew’s house to say goodbye on the way airport, called more people... I wish... Pick up the phone and call a friend or family member you haven’t been in touch with, hug your parents, children and animals and tell them you love them. You may not have the chance again.