Last night, I drove through a deserted under-curfew Bangalore, getting my adopted sister to hospital. At the hospital, I watched a steady stream of people in distress, begging for a bed. For an Intensive Care Unit.
A woman caught my eye and tried to smile. I moved away, trying to get as far away from people as possible. A man walked in, gasping, coughing incessantly. An ambulance wailed in the distance.
This is not my Bangalore. This is not my hometown. This is hell.
S was given a bed only because we knew the Director of the hospital. I watched her go, carrying her small bag and my heart broke.
My heart has been broken in a million ways since yesterday. The day before S tested positive for Covid-19. Yesterday, my Mom and I tested positive. My Dad and other sister, thankfully, tested negative.
I should have realized in the morning yesterday when I struggled through a 15-minute stretching and mobility routine. I know I am fit, capable of running a marathon any day. I have no “comorbidities.” I am only 41. Yet, I was struggling to lift myself up when I bend down. I can’t imagine the pain this virus wreaks on more vulnerable bodies. Even as I write this, I feel an incredible fatigue running through every pore.
And, Indians, we brought this on ourselves. In our refusal to mask up. In wearing our masks on our chins. In electing people who have shown that they don’t care for lives. In organizing weddings. In attending political rallies. In attending film rallies. In thronging to pubs.
This virus is not a joke. It’s not “just a flu.”
Right now, I am angry. At life. I am angry that life is a series of readings now on a blinking oximeter. As a family, we can only beg doctors to let us know how S is doing. Nobody can visit. She is receiving oxygen as I write this. I tremble every time I take my Mom’s readings. She is 80, with insulin-dependent diabetes, and only got her second vaccine dose on Friday. I scan her anxiously, trying to gauge every sign. “Are you breathing well? Take a deep breath,” I admonish her.
This is hell.
I struggled last week trying to understand why a book friend had blocked and ghosted me. And that, another girl, who I had only good intentions for, had done the same, and never responded to my email. I don’t know why we do this. Is there anyone who thinks that life is long right now? That we are not leading incredibly fragile lives? How can we sit blocking, ex-communicating people at this time in our lives? As my life unfolded yesterday, I realized that none of these things matter. Ego. Pride. You did this. You did that. Nothing. Grudges and resentment look silly when you face life’s rifle. Trust me on this.
All that matters?
How well did you love?
Love the living daylights out of your people. Tell them you do so. Please don’t take people or life for granted.
Here’s my earnest plea: Please support anyone you can anyhow. If you can volunteer, please do so.
If you are a friend, please reach out. Please be there for them. They need you.
If you know of hospitals and beds, please make sure your knowledge reaches those who need it.
Offer kindness. Offer your prayers.
Please. And love your heart out.
All my light and love,