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.
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.
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.