After the first Covid-19 wave, it was mistakenly thought that the worst was over. Complacency was all too evident.
The 1918-1919 influenza epidemic never reached South America, Australia, New Zealand, China or Japan. World War I was wrongly called a World War. It was confined to Europe till 1917, the year in which the United States sent a large number of troops to Europe to fight Germany. The second World War, 1939-1945, had a much wide range and reach. In 1941 December, Japan extended the war to the Pacific and Malaysia, Burma and the Andaman Islands. Even it did not by and large include Africa, South of Sahara. Exceptions there were, but few and far between. South America did not become a combatant in any meaningful way.
The Covid-19 pandemic extends from Chile to Kolkata, New York to New Delhi, Dhaka to Denmark, Moscow to Manila, London to Lahore, Singapore to Sydney, Cape Town to Cairo.
India is in the grip of a deadly second wave. After the first Covid-19 wave, it was (mistakenly thought) that the worst was over. Complacency was all too evident. It was stressed that Indians were less likely to succumb to the virus because our immune systems were much stronger on account of our chronic diseases like typhoid, cholera, polluted water, pneumonia etc. This was self-delusion.
Today we are on the top of the Covid-19 pyramid. On Wednesday, the country recorded 3,643 deaths. As of writing this, the surge has passed three million active cases in Bharat that is India.
Shortage of hospital beds, shortage of vaccines, doctors, nurses, ambulances, sanitation staff and above all oxygen are a daily concern and acute anxiety. Our doctors and nurses are doing a splendid job, working round the clock. Alas, respite is not in sight, apparently till mid-May. Other experts say relief could come only in July-August.
What is corporate India doing? Not much is heard of it donating funds to Mission Oxygen. Sachin Tendulkar has donated Rs 1 crore to Mission Oxygen, which is an NGO providing oxygen concentrators to patients. He says, “I hope that their efforts soon reach out to many more hospitals across India.”
What about Bollywood? Lots of millionaires there. What has been its monetary response to combating Covid-19?
Reading newspapers is depressing beyond measure. What else can be done to report reality? Is restraint the answer? Sensationalism must be avoided. It is a horrendously difficult time for everyone. Doctors on TV ask viewers not to panic. Easier said than done. What do parents of two children do if one dies of corona? Of course, they panic. The Almighty seems to be indifferent to their tragedy. What else can our dedicated, hard-working doctors do, but ask people to keep their composure and try to keep calm? The devastating truth is that there is no consolation for parents whose only teenager son or daughter is taken away by corona. They cannot even give him a proper cremation.
I have been reflecting about what life has in store for children aged 4,5,6, whose parents corona has killed. They are too young to comprehend, yet they look for papa and mama. Who will take care of these orphans? Uncles and aunties? How, if they may be living in another town?
A lower middle class family lives in Shahdra, in a two-room house with three school-going kids. School is shut. The kids ask, why they can’t go to meet their friends, why are their friends not coming to play with them? When will school open?
Their father is without a job, the mother is unwell. Just imagine the psychological and mental trauma taking a toll on their lives. This damage will be permanent. If their parents were to die, they could end up in a hell hole called an orphanage. Am I over dramatic? No. Some people known to me have died of Covid-19, leaving a family behind with no financial resources. What of their future? The brutal fact is that their future is in the past.
Is mankind on crash course? Optimism would be out of place. Pessimism is no help.
This article is evidence of the sombre mood I am enveloped in, in my 92nd year.
The passing away of Soli Sorabji distressed me very much. He lived a long life of distinction. He was an outstanding lawyer. His admirers and friends numbered hundreds from all walks of life. He will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to Soli’s family.