With COVID There’s No Respite In Life And No Dignity In Death; How Did We Get Here?!

Who is accountable for all the loss of life and human dignity in this second wave of COVID that could have been managed better?

Who is accountable for all the loss of life and human dignity in this second wave of COVID that could have been managed better?

Of all things that we as a country are going through, what will haunt us the most are the images of dead bodies floating in the Ganga.

The first time it flashed on the news with pics and videos, I didn’t know how to react. All I could think was this is someone’s mother, father, child or brother… I still get a sinking feeling in my heart whenever I come across any news related to the same.

We as a nation were already reeling under the stress of the second wave of COVID and this was something that none of us expected.

Why were people dumping their dead in the rivers?

I couldn’t help but wonder why someone would do something inhuman like that. Dumping the body of their loved one in the Ganga. Official reports say that these bodies are most likely of COVID patients from villages who passed away and the villagers didn’t have enough money to perform the last rites of their family members.

Now comes the inevitable question, “How did we get here?”

Should we be blaming the poor people in the villages for this or the authorities who didn’t forsee any of this? In the end who is accountable?

People have been lining up for hospitals in the cities and metros. Hospitals are full, the lucky ones who somehow get a bed don’t get oxygen or medicines. There are people who are dying even without a chance to get admitted. There is a queue to get tested, a queue for hospitals, a queue for beds, a queue for oxygen cylinders and medicines and inspite of all this if you still don’t survive there is a queue to get cremated.

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Cremation grounds are overflowing. There is a scarcity of wood for the pyre and let’s face it we don’t have that many electric crematoriums in our country (also most people prefer the traditional way). The firewood and gas furnaces have been running continuously day and night without a break that now the metal parts have started to melt.

Why isn’t the Govt running ads to educate on COVID?

The people living in villages don’t have the basic knowledge about COVID and its repercussions. They are poor people who survive on farming and don’t spend their day on Facebook, twitter, or reading newspapers. Who has taken the responsibility to educate them?

Most villagers who were interviewed said that their family members got a fever and they passed away. They barely have money for their daily expenses. Combine that with the rising cost of wood, cremations, and their fear of the disease. They don’t have the money to perform the last rites hence they are resorting to dumping bodies in the river. Thousands of people who rely on these rivers now have a risk of being exposed to contaminated water.

I remember when we were kids we used to have continuous ads in newspapers and on television (literally in every break) of polio prevention – so as to ensure everyone’s kids takes the polio drops, and the second ad I remember very vividly was of garbh nirodhak goliyan (oral contraceptives) causing an embarrassment to Indian parents in front of their kids. This was publicised in every remote village through govt campaigns as well.

What I fail to understand is why we don’t have a basic ad on television which is on repeat in every break. Educating people about the below:

  • How to wear a mask considering we still have morons removing their masks while talking and wearing it below their nose even after an entire year of the pandemic.
  • Symptoms of COVID. What should you look out for?
  • Steps to be taken incase you have any of the symptoms.
  • Govt centres opened in every village where people could go and get basic information and help.
  • Dangers of ignoring your symptoms and spreading it to the people who come in contact with you.
  • Dangers of not disposing the bodies the right way (the latest problem we have)
  • Importance of taking the vaccination and registering for the same (Let’s be realistic. People from villages aren’t using the CoWin app or Arogya Setu, many of them don’t even have smart phones).

This is something that is not unachievable. Please educate the masses. It is the need of the hour.

Recently I had a conversation with my house help and asked her if she’s taken the vaccine, what she said totally baffled me, “Didi aap ko pata nahin kya corona khatam ho gaya.” (Didi don’t you know that corona is over?).

I had to take a couple of minutes to get her back to reality and explain the situation we are in but it did make me realise one thing. I always assumed she understood and realised the gravity of the situation that we are in. Inspite of having access to television and the people whose houses she worked in, she was still total unaware.

This will have very long term repercussions

The virus will definitely be defeated someday but will we ever be able to get over this? These images will haunt us for generations to come. Can we carry the guilt of not doing enough for our loved ones, not being able to find them a bed or oxygen cylinder, not being able to source Remdesivir, and last of all not being able to give them the dignity and respect even in their death.

Can you ever get over the images of people being eaten by dogs and crows? I have a knot in my stomach while I type this.

High time we question what our priorities are. There are celebrities who are holidaying, the govt is on their own trip, the rich are unaffected and getting richer, the only ones suffering are the poor and middle class who are struggling with unemployment, EMI’s and for oxygen. Do we deserve this?

There is a quote – “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” The people who died are in a happy place now and we the people who live struggle with our reality. The reality of the horror we are living in, the reality of the people we have become and the reality of humanity where we struggle everyday to remain HUMAN.

Image source: Balourirajesh on pixabay

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