CORONA CAME CALLING: Prologue, Dialogue, Monologue, Epilogue- Amlesh Ranjan
In April 2019, in my article, “Healthcare is First a Responsibility…”*, quoting WHO, I mentioned, “The threat ahead is so big that if it is not taken care of, it can wipe out substantial part of our progresses and gains on all other fronts. The task ahead is so enormous that the international agencies and the governments cannot handle on their own and hence, the onus is on all stakeholders in the system.” Unfortunately, within 8 months, Covid-19 strikes our World, and all that and more has come true.
31st December’2019, in Wuhan, China, ‘novel coronavirus’ raised its head and reported as ‘Viral Pneumonia of Unknown Cause’. WHO immediately takes cognizance and alerts/activates the Global Outbreak Network. In couple of weeks, cases start getting reported from outside China, Thailand & Japan. In subsequent weeks, novel coronavirus starts getting reported from multiple countries, across continents. WHO characterizes it as a ‘Pandemic’ on 11th March’2020.**
27th January’2020, first case of novel coronavirus is reported in India — Thrissur, Kerala, a lady, who returned from Wuhan just 4 days back.*** By 9th March, it enters the state of Maharashtra (city of Pune), and by 11th March, the first case gets reported in Mumbai****, the city where I live along with my family. Cases keep getting reported all across, and our City/State is the worst affected. Corona travels to our locality / society / complex, eventually to our building.
The subsequent lockdown, work from home, and managing household chores on your own were small realities- isolations & quarantine; individual & collective sufferings; loss of lives & livelihoods; forced separations; interrupted childhoods; disturbed sunset years; reverse migrations; overwhelmed health systems meant that this pandemic is truly the biggest Health & Humanity crisis in our lifetime.
More than a year of extreme carefulness, high levels of hygiene, immune boosting supplements came to naught, when Corona entered our apartment on 24th March’2021 — my life-partner tested positive. The immediate isolation/quarantine and consultation/treatment notwithstanding, Son too got infected. We separated ourselves in different rooms, I, being in the outermost part of the apartment. One afternoon, Corona tip-toed into my room, and thus started our interactions, sharing the same.
I asked, why did you come to our World. Corona said, “I did not come on my own, You all invited me with your reckless behavior”. Corona continued, “Even your scriptures talk about cleanliness. You have forgotten, cleanliness is next to Godliness, remember, how clean were your habits and surroundings before the pandemic.”
I protested; you have stopped us in our tracks. Corona growled back, “And how & at what speed, you were running, and at what cost — Polluted Air, Dirty Rivers, Destroyed Flora, Melting Icebergs, Sinking Lands, Rising Seas, Widespread Landslides…. “. And I could respond only with a blank look. Yes, we appear to be correcting all that but paying a very heavy cost for the same.
Spare us now, too many lives & livelihoods have been lost, I requested. Corona said, “Who am I to spare, I am your creation. In your relentless quest to stretch the boundaries of science, you forgot that you need to also learn to control it, when it goes out of hand.
You can sure control me by being together as ‘One Humanity’, and with all knowledge, advancements and resources that you have across nations & continents, you sure can do it”. “One more thing”, Corona said, “You indeed need to keep building healthcare manpower & infrastructure, but more than that, it’s high time, you Create a Culture of Health”. I could just nod.
Corona asked me, “Vaccines are available, why you & your wife did not get vaccinated?” I told, yes, we were qualifying as per the age criteria but were not meeting the co-morbidity condition, and it would have been out-rightly immoral for us to jump the que. I felt, I built some positivity with Corona, but it was short-lived.
Despite two weeks of very cautious, from distance care of my Wife & Son, and with all immune boosting and preventive intakes, Corona entered Me, and immediately, Daughter too got infected. By this time, the 2nd wave got built up, and Beds, Oxygen, Meds … everything became increasingly sparse to meet this healthcare tsunami of unforeseen proportions. I realized, when your loved ones are down, you are brave, but when you yourself are down, you are a wreck. I imagined the worst, triggering a monologue.
The churn within, strengthened my own life philosophies — What really matters in Life & Career? You can live without your best clothes & accessories and that dream car & cool office desk that you are so proud of. Appearances do not matter, Experiences & Expressions do. My executive thinking as a leader/manager got re-enforced- Control is not the effective currency, Trust is, and People matter more than Strategy.
Yes indeed, the professional life matters, it’s here that you produce and contribute for the world. But, much before that is the personal life, where Your Being is anchored as a Son, Brother/Sister, Husband & Father. No roles and responsibilities in your life supersede the ones mentioned above.
One more, very important role which needs precedence over professional, actually making it meaningful and purposeful, and that is Social. Our responsibility towards society and community is very important. It is reflected through Our every conscious and responsible action and behavior. With these thoughts, as we 4 became Covid negative, we bid Corona goodbye, and Corona left, but with a wry smile.
Within two days of our turning covid negative, I got the information that the person who gave me my existence in this World, is down with covid at my far-away hometown. I rushed and did all that can be done, but she could not recover, became one with the Supreme. Devastated, crestfallen & heartbroken, I bowed to this reality of life.
And by what I saw and heard, out there in the Hospital and in the cremation ground. I also accepted that this pandemic will not be over even after it is over.
As we are seeing, the 2nd and 3rd wave raging in different parts of the world, and there are talks of a 4th wave as well, we are far away from an epilogue for Corona. But, when you see healthcare systems crumbling against this insurmountable load, and when you see the caretaker talking about running out of suitable timber for cremation, you first shudder at our inadequacies but you are also filled with an iron-willed resolve to do whatever you can to write the epilogue of this devastating virus.
With Vaccinations in full swing across the World; with the kind of solidarity shown by Nations; with significant leadership shown by the Corporates, and with increasing responsible behavior by Citizens, we will sure be seeing the end of this pandemic. But the real work will start after that because Corona will leave behind empty homes, scarred minds, broken hearts, and cold hearths.
We, each one of us will have to rise in solidarity and with compassion to stand by those who need us, and a good number will do so.
As Corona Came Calling and made me & my family first-hand, live through harrowing times of ongoing pandemic, I have tried sharing what went through my mind. Allow me to share 3 key thoughts-
> We sure build Healthcare Infrastructure & Man-power but We should first Create a Culture of Health.
> Ensuring Personal and Social Life & Responsibilities will Enhance our Professional Life/Role as well.
> Post-pandemic World will need each one of us to rise with Compassion and Solidarity for the Greater Good all.
Please take care & Stay Well!
Views expressed are personal.