We are islands within ourselves – by Esther David

As soon as the Corona-virus spread its fangs all over the world, followed with a Lockdown and curfew, I felt like an island surrounded by a sea of conflicting emotions.

Nine months later, even after the Unlock, when shops have opened and life appears to be normal, yet we are afraid to meet each other…do not touch, keep a safe distance. Agreed, but we can at least speak a few words of concern, because it is important to communicate or else the island within us will float away towards unknown horizons…

I feel my body has a millions of pores, from where the virus can enter and drag me to the final destination…and dust will turn to dust….

There were many patients who were admitted to Covid-hospitals, they could not see their families and the trauma of those, who were quarantined at home, is unimaginable. I am sure, they felt ostracized by society, yet there were some good Samaritans, who looked after their needs.

A surrealistic image emerges in my mind, of a vast desert-land full of specks of human beings, keeping a safe distance from each other, silently walking towards a dark horizon….  

When our area was declared as a contaminated zone, I called the police control room and the receptionist wanted to know the reason of my call, so I told her, I needed groceries and medicines. In ten minutes, a police van arrived at my door with four young police women, dressed in uniform, berets, gloves and masks. They were friendly, took the list and drove away and much to my surprise, in an hour they were back, with all that I needed.

My house-help could not come to my place for almost four to five months. Soon after the Unlock, she arrived, wearing a mask and smiled as I gave her a bottle of sanitizer, she rubbed it over her hands and was happy to be back to work. I realized; all I needed was someone to ask me, “How are you today?”

During the Pandemic, followed by the Lockdown, whenever somebody called, I felt energized and came to the conclusion that the human voice has a great capacity to heal, comfort and lend warmth. In contrast, I also heard stories of discord amongst couples and families. Almost every single human being was finding it difficult to be locked-up at home. Maybe by the time, the Pandemic recedes; it will leave behind broken relationships and dissent amongst most families.

Before the Pandemic, I had noticed, hospitals used deep green curtains and the medical staff, even wore masks of the same colour, along with their white coats. But, as soon as the Pandemic arrived, I started identifying the medical staff by their Personal-Protection-Equipment in white and sky blue colours.

Blue and white are the colours of the universe, purity, beauty, silence and exude a feeling of peace. Strangely, it has become a colour we associate with Corona-virus and death.

In Gujarat, according to rules, Navratri was celebrated in private homes or inside housing societies. The festival passed peacefully, but everything changed with Diwali, when there was an air of festivity, as though; there was no Pandemic looming large over our lives. And, as the fireworks, shot upwards, there was an increase in cases, eventually a two-day curfew was imposed in the city.

Every morning, I wake up, remembering the labyrinth of long silent hours, but alive in a world, where we have transformed into islands within ourselves.

This article appeared in THE SPEAKING TREE column of THE TIMES OF INDIA on 18th January 2021

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