Life in the times of the Corona Pandemic – II

Continued from ‘Life in the Times of the Corona Pandemic – I’.

The engine purred into life as I turned the ignition key of my car. After a sumptuous breakfast of last night’s leftovers, I was ready for the day. Though we were not directly involved in the care of patients afflicted with the Corona virus, we were all supposed to come to the hospital daily – attendance was compulsory. Why? The logic behind the decision was beyond me.

The routine OPDs were closed, routine surgeries were not being done, only the MOST ESSENTIAL surgeries and emergency cases were being operated – those which involved a risk to the life or limb of the patient. The risk of exposure to the surgical team had to be justifiable when weighed against the benefit to the patient. And so, why hundreds of University faculty made that trip to their offices daily – endangering themselves and their families for nothing – escaped the intellect of my pea-sized brain.

A more reasonable way would have been to do a rostering of all the faculty, residents and staff so that a fraction of the people attended to the work at hand, while the others distanced themselves at home and could be rotated according to a plan or called upon in case of an outbreak on the campus. Unfortunately, our administrative masters did not see it this way. And since making policy or commenting on it was way above my pay grade, I reconciled myself to dutifully following the orders and trying my best to reduce the risks to myself and my family, as best as I could.

Thus we had tried to sequester my belongings at home as much as possible and keep office ‘things’ away from home things. When I returned from work every day, I would wipe my phone and spectacles and car keys with spirit and wash whatever I could wash. The other things were just quarantined in one corner of the house, to be used again the next day.

All this, and more, was going around my head that morning as I reversed my car down the ramp and watched my wife close the gates of the house. The roads were almost completely deserted giving one the feeling of entering a war-zone. As my car turned the corner, I could see the barricade at the end of the road, just where the side street joined the highway. A lone constable stood there, at the barricade, arguing with the occupant of a car. He was gesticulating, asking for papers, expressing his helplessness at not being able to allow the car to pass the barrier.

As my car glided to a stop near the barricade, I could hear them argue and see the exchange of identity papers. A few minutes of heckling later the car driver won the argument, and the policeman unwillingly allowed him to pass. By the sagging of his shoulders and the beads of perspiration on his creased forehead, I could well imagine the poor fellow was not enjoying this onerous task that he had been delegated. ‘Not unlike ourselves’, I thought. ‘We both are government servants and are forced in work under circumstances, and in a way which is less than ideal’. I could feel a sense of sympathy well up inside me for the policeman, standing there doing his job against odds, arguing with people for their own benefit, getting threatened and bullied and for what? An ungrateful people and an uncaring government? This was the sorry state of policemen all over the country these days – standing by the roadside, patrolling their beats, encouraging and bullying people into following the rules of the lockdown, working in fearful odds, exposing themselves to the risk of infection – it was a thankless job anyway one looked at it.

I was so immersed in my thoughts that I almost did not notice the car move forward and the constable gesture me to proceed for checking. Jerked back to attention by his furious gesticulating, I put the car in gear and moved forward, my hand involuntarily dipping into my pocket for the COVID19 pass that we had been issued by the government. When the car had stopped near him, I slid the passenger window down and fumbled in my breast pocket for the pass to show to the constable who was already peering into the cabin of the car. I do not know if it was the faculty car pass or the movement pass pasted to my windscreen or the white coat hanging inside my car which he saw, but his face immediately burst into a smile. He stepped back from the car, clicked his heels and gave me a salute, ‘You go on right ahead Sir,’ he chirped. ‘You people should not be stopped anywhere. Afterall you are our army these days, fighting with this Corona virus.’ The happiness and the conviction in his voice was infectious. Life suddenly felt good, and the risk was worth taking. ‘If this constable, standing here, taking the same risks as I do, working in extremely adverse conditions and still doing his job, can keep his priorities right, so can I,’ I thought to myself. ‘He doesn’t question the circumstances, he just does his duty. What’s more, he also acknowledges the contributions of others. Wish more people could be like him.’

I drove away from that place with a feeling of positivity inside me. Something had changed in a fraction of a second. The constable’s smile, his acknowledgement of others’ contribution when his own was no less, and his positive attitude had taught me a lesson that day. A lesson in positivity. And we sorely needed this positivity in times like these when the world was being hounded by an unknown and an unseen enemy. There was so much we could learn from him, I thought.

Lesson number one – Do your job, don’t complain. Others have it as bad. Complaining won’t help the cause. Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Lesson number two – Appreciate others. Acknowledge their contribution, spread positivity.

Lesson number three – Don’t be let down by idiots. You will always find them everywhere, don’t let them pull you down.

It is not as if these lessons are new or as if I did not know them, but sometimes it just helps to be reminded of the good things one has forgotten…………………….

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