Captured By Firos nv from

We think we are done with the pandemic, but the pandemic is not  done with us                                         - Gitanjali Pai, MD, AAHIVS


It was 2019 when there was a stir worldwide, a virus they said. The very air we breathe in carried the promise of a silent, invisible and sinister enemy that could potentially bring death and misery. No one had any idea what it was and in no time it started to topple countries, bringing chaos and dead bodies in it's wake. In India, it was a whisper first, not something to be bothered of in our already hectic lives. It was not until 30th January, 2020 that the whisper took a solid shape and the plight was on us. The pandemic hit us like a wave, crashed on us breaking our slumber. Sitting in my room with a pen in my hand, I remember how unprepared we were. India was in a turmoil; scrambling to make the best efforts of fighting back against something that had no history and no visibility. Fear had it's claws on every human heart as one cannot suddenly decide not to breathe. There were news of death from foreign lands, news of entire families wiped out, stories of suffering and feeble chance of surviving circulating everywhere. Speculations were that the virus would likely spread as a wildfire in India too and soon there was no option but to bar ourselves in our houses, the makeshift haven we manage to create around our families. On March 24, 2020, India went for a complete lockdown for 21 days straight in a desperate effort to stop the contamination. It was an ultimate doom for everyone in different ways but a necessary one at the same time. In the upcoming months India witnessed a suffering so unique that a deep impact has been left upon every beating heart.   

Statistics and Slogans           

It has been already one year and eight months living with the virus, surviving and kind of getting along which is horrifyingly okay. The only way I can see India now is through numbers and graphs. It amazes me how little the death count effects my mind recently, how the ups and downs in the graph don't bother me much. When Covid was fresh and roaming like a wild beast on Indian streets, my heart used to sink by the number of people losing the battle. The dread was nothing I can explain as the gravity of the situation settled. Am I going to be next? Will my family survive through this? What will I do if it never ends? These were the questions that constantly haunted me. The Phase 1 lockdown was extended and little did we know it will stretch so long that we forget the sensation of feeling fresh air without fearing for our lives. The imposing of the total lockdown did however curb the level of contamination to a great extent. As time passed more information surfaced about the nature of the virus. The spread of Covid was possible when people infected came in close contact with the unaffected ones. Therefore the deserted streets, the lifeless markets, abandoned educational institutions despite being horrible to look at were beacons of a successful attempt. It was a silent war we all were fighting by doing nothing while the doctors and nurses tried to minimize the suffering. The degree of infection was also varied which generated different experiences. Some made it through, others were not so lucky. By July 2020, the graph took an upward surge and started ascending precariously, the death toll keeping up the pace. Soon in mid September, the tip touched the 100,000 mark and all hell broke lose. The only word I remember clearly of that time is 'crisis'. Crisis of bed, crisis of oxygen, crisis of everything a nation needs to survive the danger. A country with billion population was slowly sinking under the weight of lifeless bodies and grief of mourning loved ones. The first wave was horrible not only statistically but also mentally. It was then that few chants became popular, the ones that will become our only mode of communication while quarantined. Socially distanced people held up the slogan like 'Break the Chain'; 'Stay Home Stay Safe' ; 'Spread Facts Not Fear' and many more. It deviated our minds from the constant crisis and with collective efforts the curve dipped. Fatality rate also dropped which gave government the hope to losen the restrictions alongwith urging the population to accept the new norms - Mask, Sanitizer and six feet distance. These were dark days specially for the daily wage earners. They were lost, fearing that if Covid didn't kill them then hunger definitely will. So at the first indication of lose rules, they jumped into their daily routines. Thus the shadow of death remained over everyone and little by little people became numb to it;  death also became the new normal. Second wave has come and gone, claiming more lives, imposing more pain meanwhile efforts of finding a vaccine to the virus has made the headlines. 2020 has passed and currently total cases in India is 3.42 Crore with deaths of 4.5 lakh people. Vaccination have already started and probably the day will come soon when we will be synthetically immune to this virus, living our life not with fear but with resolution to fight back. 

Are you okay?

Despite rational thinking and maintaining the distance from social life, if someone asks 'How are you faring? Are you okay?' The answer comes out as 'no'. It has not been easy for anyone, being confined at home and living with constant fear. There was a time when I used to count seconds while staring at the ceiling trying to ease the hollowness inside me. Even if a person is an introvert, the constant confinement creeps up and squashes the happiness. Students lost their only job- studying. Everything online was okay, but it can never replace the classroom vibe and the funny thing was no one could be blamed for this. Everyone tried their own ways of letting out their frustration. I diverted more to reading novels and painting which actually was a therapy I unknowingly discovered. The nature also healed and we held on to the hope that we will too. Despite being faced with so many difficulties life still moves on and shines brighter than death. I have heard so many quarantine stories of self discovery and success that it is impossible to let the physical confinement shut down the creative mind. So, if anyone is not okay, then he or she is not alone and the 'not okay' situation will diffuse if the light is lit within one's heart.

When will the pandemic end?

We all want the answer to this question, don't we? As of in 2021, life has almost reverted back to normal again. Every place is hustling and bustling and mostly people are not concerned anymore about the situation. Often I have witnessed men and women roaming around maskless which looks odd now, like a warrior stripped off his shield no matter how fragile. We have a tendency to break rules, to sneak around a situation and to live in denial. No one knows when the pandemic will end or if it will end at all. It seems surreal how time flies and how the standards of life change with that. There are so many things we learnt and achieved due to Covid- the basic hygine routines, the precious time with family, the self healing techniques and most importantly the value of life. Still there are people who cannot fathom the depth of grave consequences and are deliberately hindering with the rules. They don't understand that waves will keep on coming and people will keep on dying if we don't maintain the standard and necessary protocols placed on us. The population is so huge that there is a great chance of spiralling down to nothing in terms of safety, economy and overall living conditions. Unnecessary gatherings can propel the entropy to increase which will trigger the next cycle again and again. Just for the sake of the ones fighting day and night on the frontline we should take the responsibility of abiding by the norms. We should rise together separately and heal the nation, we should remind others who forget that Covid -19 is not over yet, it still exists somehow. Hope can show us the path but to walk on it we have to discipline ourselves and be the citizen a free country deserves.

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