April 2021. Everyday, my country, India, is touching new heights in the number of Covid19 cases. Every day, more and more people are dying. Every day, we are hearing that someone we know has been infected. After one year, we are back in square one, that too a grimmer one. How did we reach here? When the rest of world has contained the spread and is on a healing path, how did we manage to relapse and facilitate a stronger and harder second wave?
I have always felt that human life (forget about other forms of life) in my country has little value. And the poor handling and mismanagement of this pandemic has only fortified my view. Even at this critical hour, regional and central governments are busy playing politics. Instead of running aggressive vaccination drives and protecting us first, tens of millions of vaccines have been exported. After all the lofty speeches of being self-dependent in vaccine production, we are now importing vaccines to handle the exponential surge in cases. Even under-reporting of cases is not helping anymore. We had clearly underestimated the deadly virus. Instead of bracing the nation and preparing for the worst, we are conducting elections. In the recent months, we had seen massive campaign rallies, led by top government representatives themselves, where all precautions against the pandemic had gone for a toss. The nation’s guardians have demonstrated once again that politics and maintaining a false sense of razzle-dazzle are more valuable than human lives. We have been so, so, so very ill-prepared and ill-equipped to handle the pandemic. Lack of hospital beds, shortage of oxygen and medicines are echoing our inefficiency and incompetence, clear and loud.
And what about us, the common man? Last few months, we have been reckless. We have hosted and attended weddings, parties and other family functions and encouraged large gatherings. We haven’t worn masks while going out, not washed or sanitised our hands enough. We had particpitated in political and religious rallies. While the frontline health workers have been risking their lives all this time, we have been audacious enough to negate their efforts in every possible way. Well, we don’t fear the Covid19 infection and possible death but monetary fines do scare us. So now that fines are being imposed, we have finally started wearing the mask while going out. And now that we are seeing the overcrowded hospitals, shortage of oxygen and medicines, and the queues at crematoriums and graveyards, we are rushing to medical centres to get vaccinated.
Since more than a year now, we have been staying with my parents in Assam, primarily to protect our baby girl more than anything else. We are staying put here in an attempt to elude the virus. But immediate family members and close friends are back home in Delhi as well as in other parts of the country, and they have been on our minds constantly these days. Some of them have also been infected. Right now, all we can do is stay careful and pray for everyone’s wellbeing.
April has been a stormy month in Assam so far. In the aftermath of thunderstorms and hailstorms, I see leaves (old and young), flowers and nascent fruits strewn all over the ground. Like these storms, the pandemic is hitting us hard and strong, equalising us in death and suffering. A teeny-weeny virus has rocked the world and shook us to the core. It is reminding us again and again how uncertain life is. I believe it is also God’s way of telling us who is the boss. We have used and abused the Earth and her resources in a limitless manner. We have trampled with Mother Nature’s equilibrium and overstepped our boundaries. At the micro level, we spend so much time running after material milestones and waste so much time hating and disliking each other. We keep forgetting that life itself is above all personal differences and materialistic aspirations. And how we choose to live our life is the most important thing. I wish and pray that in this difficult time, we all are able to restropect and reflect on our own lives and actions. I hope we forgo our ego and take the first step to make ammends.
In the current situation, we can’t do much about the lack of hospital beds, oxygen and medicine. We will have to leave that to our nation’s government. What we can do is try to stay home and stay safe. Please remember that being able to stay at home today is a privilege. Most of us have to go out and risk infection inorder to earn their livelihoods. We can check on our family and friends regularly, forget our differences, be kind and empathetic, help each other however and whenever possible, and come together as a family and community.
As the smartest species on this planet, we can pledge to reduce, reuse and recycle. We should try, learn and understand that all lives, irrespective of forms and species, are important for our own survival. None of us will strive without the wellbeing of the other. Our entire universe has been created with delicate balance and it is our responsibility to keep it that way. Else, Mother Nature will take matters in her own hands, time and again, to set things right.
All lives in this world are connected. As an individual, our personal wellbeing is connected to the wellbeing of our family and friends. As a community, our wellbeing is dependent on the health of our society and nation. As a species, our survival is dependent on the survival and existence of all other species and life forms. It is only together that we can strive. With imbalance and selfish motives, we only risk our very existence.