This Is What It Feels like to Live in India Right Now
As I type this, everybody except my mother and I are down with COVID-19. I have been in room isolation for 12 days. The last week has been the lowest I’ve felt mentally. Nothing feels good. My body feels weak and I feel much sadder. For a person who’s always uplifted, feeling this way feels like a side of me I hadn’t met (yet).
My grandmother showed me the day before yesterday that she is coughing out blood. We panicked and had to get her tested. My uncle told my mom to step back, so at least she could stay healthy. She, right now, is the primary caregiver between two houses.
She’s taking care of my grandmother in our house and is taking care of her brother and his family by supplying them with essentials and dropping by home food.
I don’t read the news. First, much of it feels untrue and under-reported. Second, with the negativity I am experiencing, I don’t feel I need more of it around me.
They told us the young won’t suffer. But my 16-year-old cousin brother was the worse hit. It’s been 17 days now, and he’s still fatigued. His fever was so high that he had to stand in the cold shower in a state that he was too weak to even use the washroom to relieve himself otherwise. His throat was too sore to soothe with gargling and the infection spread to his ears.
I live in a gated colony, but my room faces a hospital. It’s hardly 15 metres away and is across the road.
During the evenings when my mind cuts off from work and realizes its surroundings, the frequent ambulance sirens become more noticeable. Three times in the last week I’ve heard people screaming and crying outside the hospital after losing their loved ones. One time, the police and media came in and I was watching the scene from my window.
I have received WhatsApp forwards about the state of cremation grounds and the worse things which are yet to come, but I can’t be bothered to pay an eye to it. The last thing I want amidst this is fake or hyped news.
But is it really inaccurate?
Today my mother’s friend’s father passed away because of the virus. Last week, another friend’s father passed away, though not because of COVID. What happened with them was shocking. There was waiting on the cremation ground!
How do you sit with a dead body for 2 days waiting to cremate them? It’s a madhouse. No wonder parking lots are being turned into cremation grounds.
My friend’s uncle passed away last week too, and he sent me a screenshot of his cousin telling him that a good hundred people were sitting with dead bodies and that grounds are full.
So we can’t live, but we cannot even die?
I don’t want to play a blame game here or point a finger at politics or administration, because I am not aware or educated significantly in this subject to pass comment on. This is just a personal experience about how it feels to live in India right now.
We celebrated my mother’s birthday yesterday. I took a video while she cut her cake with her mum. From a distance, of course.
But through these 8 days that my grandmother is suffering, my mum hasn’t left her side. Yes, she enters her room with her entire protective gear on. She gives her food and medicines, washes her clothes. I asked her, “why can’t we use disposable cutlery and why don’t you maintain more distance?”
I can’t do that to my mother, she told me.
A few days ago, I noticed mom eating a tad bit healthier than usual. More salad, less unnecessary butter. When I questioned it, she told me she needs to stay extra healthy right now and can’t afford to fall sick because who else will take care of others. She’s taking care of 7 people in two houses single-handedly right now.
While she exposes herself each day, I’m not even allowed to go downstairs where my grandmother is isolated in her room.
Reminded me of the time we watched on Nat Geo about the lioness protecting her cub even if that means she’ll have to fight and lose skin.
There are many people in a worse state.
In a country where many are poverty-stricken, I’m grateful that we have a roof over our heads and get food on our plates. And I’ve been grateful for this every day, not because we’re struck by the virus.
This is an insight into the lowest point of my life.
This is an insight into what it feels like to live in India right now.
I’m not sure what my media and your media tell you, but this is my reality.