This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Sharada Vinod. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

“If This Is Not Love, What Is?” A Healthcare Worker’s Love Story During COVID-19

More from Sharada Vinod

This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

The year 2020 has been extremely difficult for most people around the world.

While uniting the world in death, morbidity and insecurity, COVID-19 also polarised the world on the basis of their privileges.

While both the poor and rich died, the backbreaking poverty and loss of income possibly killed more poor individuals than the disease itself. As we hobble towards 2021, we hope for a better tomorrow. We may be indulging in naïve hope, but what other option do we have?

As I sit here today, I feel compelled to write about my story of love in the time of COVID.  Yes, I realise its very cliché. However, if you come to think of it, love and romance are seldom much other than cliché.

woman with a mask
Representational image.

I’m A Healthcare Worker And Here’s My (Love) Story

I am a health care worker and once the pandemic situation set in, my husband and I always knew that I would be a frontline worker. In the initial months of deputation, I was in non-COVID zones. Back then, we joked about my possible death. People may allege that we have a morbid sense of humour, and we plead guilty!

In the months of March and April, the major crisis was that of the migrant labourers, daily wage workers etc, who suddenly found themselves without job, shelter, food and other basic necessities. My husband and I watched in horror, at the famine situation that was unfolding in front of our eyes. It was then that we felt the need to use our privilege to try and make a difference. We started carrying glucose biscuits and water in our vehicle which we distributed to people who were walking home in the sweltering Delhi heat.

Thereafter, we started crowdfunding and providing rations for people/settlements/communities of individuals who were left behind without a place to flee to. My phone rang off the hook during this period. My husband and I made extensive lists, plans and trips to various parts of Delhi. During this period, our crowdfunding efforts served to provide sanitary napkins, travel fare and tents for various groups of people. Of course, none of this would be possible without the trust placed in us by our friends. The crowdfunding successes helped us retain some faith in humanity. We met scores of people who were fighting a losing battle against poverty and hunger. Death by the virus probably seemed like deliverance to these victims of government apathy.

In the background, we read about health care workers dying due to a lack of adequate personal protective equipment. It was then that we considered my mortality as a possible actuality. There came a day when we were consumed by the import of the situation.

My husband and I spent hours discussing the plan of action, in case of either of our mortalities. We laughed, we hugged and we hoped for the best. We drew out plans for our parents and our dogs. My husband later decided that he can’t let me die. This, we now realise, was nothing but the insolence of a terrified mortal.

How My Husband Became My Partner, In All Sense Of Terms

What followed next was incomprehensible to me. My husband started reading about the science behind personal protective equipment. He bought and tried out dozens of various samples. He conducted experiments to understand the breaking point of the material used. He taught me, the medical professional, the nuances of the equipment that was to protect me. He devoured, all available information about personal protective equipment. Eventually, he procured the best possible material to develop PPE for doctors in India. My heart soared with pride at the lengths to which he was willing to go.

Soon enough, I was deputed to work in a COVID designated ICU. I was happy to do my due diligence. My husband would reiterate personal protective equipment safety ahead of each of my duties. I would laugh at him, yet feel his concern envelop me in an impenetrable cocoon. Thankfully for us, I remained COVID free during my duties.

We were however infected at the same time in December 2020. We spent 14 days of isolation, checking on each other, caring for each other and worrying for each other. Both of us were lucky enough to make uneventful recoveries.

People develop butterflies in their stomachs as valentine’s day draws close. We write about roses and jewellery and candlelight dinners. I too subscribed to this school of thought. Not anymore!

My husband and I did relief work, spoke about death, tried to stave off death and dealt with a virus together. We have been each other’s home base. We have learnt to love and appreciate our varied languages of love.

He hugs me even without me asking for a hug. If this is not love, what is?

He knows when im low even before I speak about it. If this is not love, what is?

We are willing to follow each other on our respective adventures. If this is not love, what is?

I hope everyone finds the love that makes them stronger and if I may say so, stranger!

I hope everyone finds a way to love the way they wish to be loved.

I hope everyone learns to find their language of love.

Happy Valentine’s week everyone.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
You must be to comment.

More from Sharada Vinod

Similar Posts

By Kunwar Nitin Pratap Gurjar

By फ़ैज़ मिराज

By Alok Mishra

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below