My grandparents were COVID-19 positive, and then all hell broke loose. We all were quarantined in our separate rooms. My father called me on FaceTime. I could see his sad smile, one of relief as well as despondence at the current state of affairs. He was scrambling around looking for medicines.
My mother, a homemaker, became the sole caregiver of the family. As none of us was leaving our rooms, she would wear a mask and leave our food outside the door.
My brother, so used to isolating for a year, enjoyed his recluse and solitude as he watched the IPL cricket matches going on.
But I, having pre-existing mental health illness, felt isolated and dreaded that my illness would only get worse. I feel nobody can understand my pain. This melancholic sadness was about to overtake me when my therapist called, asking me how I was doing.
I did not speak out my heart and said neutrally, “I am glad to be alive.” She told me to be grateful for that.
But is it fair? I have a big house where I can quarantine easily. But can the same be said for people below the poverty line who have one bedroom to share among six family members?
My father lost his job due to the pandemic but got an assignment that pays for our basic needs. But can the same be said for the millions of migrant labourers who had to go back home and the educated workforce who lost their job? The unemployment rate is at an all-time high.
I can attend my online lectures due to good internet connectivity. Can the same be said for the 500 million people who don’t have an internet connection or the rest who have 2G service?
I did not lose a loved one. But can the same be said for the millions in India who mourn the loss of their family or friends?
My grandparents got both shots of the vaccine, so they had mild symptoms. But can the same be said for the rest when only 1.7% of the population has got both shots? Where millions registered for their vaccines but got no slots due to the shortage? Where states are unfairly priced vaccines so that vaccine firms can earn super-profits?
Is it fair that we are a few of the lucky ones? But is it right to stamp us as the “lucky ones”?
My mental illness has exacerbated. The deafening silence of the roads is haunting. I miss going out and embracing nature around.
The clouds are finally blue and the skies clear as the bird’s chirp of different colours and feathers. But is it fair that there is nobody outside to enjoy nature?
People post and tweet on social media. “Help: in urgent need of remdesivir for a critical patient.”
Hundreds more post every minute eulogising the death of their loved ones. “Today, I lost my husband to the virus. Please keep us in your prayers.” Thousands comment, “Sorry for your loss.” But our chest-thumping messiah says, “All will be well.”
But will all really be well? As dead bodies mount on the pyres. Crematoriums have no wood to burn. Bodies are dumped in ambulances and the sirens echo in the wind.
But our ego-maniacal PM refuses help from China and the UN, calling the Indian health care system “robust”.
And I am a few of the lucky ones. But are my struggles not enough? My sadness is silent, but I weep at night when nobody can listen.
We should not compare struggles. Our struggles should not be belittled. Do not gaslight your own concerns.