contd.. from Ch-1
When Covid rains cats & dogs!!!!!
May 2020 was an early Covid-19 landing month leading us to hit the headlines with Papa’s maiden venture/misadventure with this. It was the new C–thing everyone was talking about. And how I hate to use that word again and again (even my auto–text prompter recognizes that C–beast a bit too soon)!!
Succeeding standard requirements called for a full house sanitization and a coronavirus testing of the whole flock back home. In compliance, deep cleansing of our apartment was carried out by government appointed men in PPE (personal protective equipment) suits. This attracted unwanted attention from neighbours and if it didn’t, the second protocol surely did.
We were to be escorted to a nearby make–shift testing centre for Covid–19. All that was good, until we found that our designated carrier was none but a full blaring, beacon–flashing ambulance signalling us publicly aloud from our door–step. The masked and gloved, eight of us, queued together as we stepped in, to be ferried away in two turns.
We know not why, but an incomprehensible guilt crept in our insides as if, we were the perpetrators of some crime. The talk of the town we surely were, but for all the wrong reasons! Prior to this, we had never seen people, struggling to catch a glimpse of us, from half–shut windows or through grills of balconies.
The RT–PCR Swab Test was performed on us by men (they could be women too; we would never know) appearing ghostly (angelic really) in fully clad, head–to–toe, white PPE gear. For those unfamiliar with the swab test, let me tell you, it is a simple and two–minute swab (one–sided ear–bud like) invasion into the throat and nasal interiors.
We returned home after a couple of hours. Once home, we sanitized every item we took with us and thoroughly, completely bathed ourselves out as if we had been somewhere down, in the sewage dungeons. Even tap water felt like the holy Ganga water then!
The atmosphere at home was one of tension, anxiety, sorrow, pain, worry, apprehension, all packed together in one punching–bag. And whoa! We had not yet found the time to cry. Maybe, Mum (in–law) even silently nursed the complaint of us even looking like a family in bereavement, such was the magnanimity of the problems to be addressed.
The problems included attending calls & messages of condolence from hospital/Health Ministry, facing quarantine restrictions relating to domestic supplies like medicine, dairy and groceries, chalking out religious/superstitious formulae for surviving the ongoing crisis, war room strategies for the coming days & the infinite how to….and what if… problems.
But the iron–willed lady that my mum is, she never vent out her feelings. She wilfully participated in all family discussions of any anticipated fatalities.
These discussions crept in the living room, the kitchen, the bedrooms and over breakfast, lunch and dinner– it was full board. Worrisome and nastier by the day, there seemed to be no interval and end to this toxicity. Negation of the test reports singly could salvage the last of hope in us. The kids in the house were affected too!
Soon, the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) pronounced its verdict upon us. The telephone rung and we held our breaths, as we heard my husband talking over the call. Going by his expressions, it was easily figurable that it was “that” feared call. He hung up with one final sentence and which was– “Shudu ek jon hi naa?” (Bengali language when in Kolkata) which meant to ask the caller if he was sure that it was just one person only. And thus, we knew that one amongst us was Covid-19 positive. But who? The question scared us.
Effortlessly, one can sense the whole drama that was going on there. Believe me when I say, ‘It is not the power of my pen, nor my husband’s acting prowess when I depict the dramatism going on there; rather, it was Lady Fate at its theatrical best then.
We waited for the verbalization of the call with abated breaths. And then My Lord! My private lord! dropped the bomb on us ( HE WAS ALREADY BOMBED! ).
The Suspense Unfolds–
So Yes Folks, “I WAS THE CHOSEN ONE!”. Amongst us eight all, I was the one shortlisted to battle it out in the covid–war ground. Later, my loved ones told me that God chose me because he knew that I was brave. To this, I relented with pride and honour. We all knew, I had no choice.
My Shani Grih (planet saturn) was on the heavier side– this was the conclusion drawn upon. I assume it was this very Saturn that had spun my fate in its ring and catapulted me straight into the boot of the ambulance.
About the farewell, I was bidden a teary one as I stood encircled by the seven family members; call them ‘the seven planets’. Saturn, the eighth one, was out, doing its job and I became the Sun, the star, then. Of course, they stood from me at a radius equivalent to the “prescribed’ social distance.
My decade–old son, a timid creature, was a fright in sight. He stood there helpless, wanting to hug me tight and not letting go of me. But, killing those strict six feet was out of the question and so, he sobbed away, his tears getting caught in the home–stitched cloth mask; a DIY project undertaken by mum–in–law. Back then, we had been gleefully choosing colours and fabric.
I was in a vacuumized pain inside, not out of fear, but out of my little one’s heart rending demeanour. However far those six feet seemed; in my eyes, they could not fade away the ache my child felt. It was love stretched a little too far.
CONTINUED in the next chapter. Link Ahead !
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