Life seemed to be coming back on track, slowly but steadily. Everything seemed normal again. Schools and colleges were about to start with new academic session with double the zeal and enthusiasm albeit with all the safety measures mandatory under corona protocol in place. But the sudden comeback of Covid-19 caught everyone unawares.

In comparison to other countries India was better placed to deal with the deadly virus. It was well-prepared to check the spread of the infection when the virus was at its nascent stage. Responding to the threat posed by the pandemic, the government acted with alacrity and clamped nationwide lockdown despite its serious humanitarian implications. Entire world lauded India’s efforts to combat the disease.

Why then we could not stop the second wave of pandemic? Whose fault it is that led to such a horrible state of affair in the country? Is the government alone to blame? These were the question uppermost in every mind.

The second wave of coronavirus epidemic came as a bold from the blue. It proved more lethal and devastating than the first one. By its sudden comeback with vengeance, the pandemic brought the entire nation to its knee and made it feeble. We all have seen how people suffered in the wake of the surge in corona cases.

While many lost their loved ones to the deadly disease, others were disturbed and distressed by the news of unexpected death of someone known to them if not close to them. People could be seen desperately pleading for oxygen to hospital beds to ventilators to save their near and dear ones in the dying minutes. And the last but not the least was the rush for space on the cremation ground for the unlucky ones. Amidst all this, many put their own lives at stake. The situation is a direct consequence of carelessness of some and the mismanagement of the government after the first wave.

As life suddenly came to a screeching halt some drastic changes took place around us. Foodies were deprived of their delicious samosas and jalebis etc. the street delicacies they would, otherwise, have relished standing at wayside stalls with gay abandon. With the government determined to combat the pandemic while people of all hues extended their wholehearted cooperation even if it meant to compromise on their basic necessities.

Consequently, all economic activities came to a halt with commercial establishments, offices, schools and colleges and even parks and entertainment hubs were deserted. However, there was no dearth of black sheep who violated covid norms with impunity jeopardizing their own lives and the lives of others. At a time when the rest were confined to homes to avoid exposure to the deadly virus, these foolhardy denizens went on a spree to spread the most contagious viral infection.

One fine morning, my best friend called to inform me that she was going for a birthday bash in the evening. As the covid was at its peak, I tried to dissuade her from taking the risk. But she went to attend the party ignoring all my advice. Within two days of the party she was shivering with high fever and sore throat. These were precisely the signs of coronavirus. I asked her to take a covid test and quarantine herself. But she declined to do so saying it was just a viral fever.

Two-three more days passed by, but she did not get the test done. Meanwhile, she went on generosity infecting the people who came to visit her. Eventually, she went for the test in duress, lest her name would have been removed from panchayat election duty held in UP on 26 April, 2021. But without waiting for the reports, she went on shopping accompanied by her sister who too had covid symptoms and had also got covid test done.

The next day, the report came in and as expected it was positive for coronavirus. By now, her entire family, including her 70-year-old mother-in-law and 10-year-old daughter, were infected. Not only this, she spread the infection among many people at the market where she had gone for shopping.

One morning, I woke up hearing my cousin shouting at his client over phone. When I asked him about reason for shouting, he told me that one of his clients Girdhari Lal (name changed), 26, who is covid positive was not getting hospital bed in Ballia. He was trying to help him get admitted to a hospital as his oxygen level was gradually deteriorating. Somehow he could manage to get him a bed in the covid hospital Basantpur, Ballia.

Girdhari Lal was admitted to the hospital at 9 pm on April 25. As visitors were not allowed inside one of his cousins attending on him stayed outside the hospital. Though he got the bed and oxygen, his condition was rapidly deteriorating. However, we were relaxed thinking at least Girdhari is under the observation of doctors. But all of a sudden, something happened that shook us. Girdhari disappeared from the hospital. What was intriguing to us was that how careless the hospital management could be.

After much effort, my cousin could be able to contact him on phone. He was at a sweet shop in Basantpur devouring somosas and sweets as he had not eaten anything since morning because food was not served at the hospital that day. This was the reason for his running away from the hospital.

The incident left us shell-shocked. We felt pity and were concerned for him as his oxygen level was reduced to 40 at that time. Later, his family caught him and took him to the hospital even as he was reluctant to go back to the disgusting place – the “hospital”.

Well, we took a sigh of relief knowing that Girdhari was back in the hospital. The next morning at 5 o’ clock, my cousin’s phone rang. Soon after picking up the call, he reacted with deep shock anguish. Girdjhari, the 26-year-old youth full of energy and exuberance, was no more. The news of his death completely devastated my cousin.

One of his relatives informed us that Girdhari was struggling between life and death till 4 o’ clock. It was around 4:30 he breathed his last, not because he was a loser, but because the hospital management was unable to provide him with adequate oxygen. The hospital failed to keep the trust Girdhari’s family reposed on it.

It is easy for the citizens to blame the government for their miseries. But they too need to have introspection on what’s their contribution to ease things. While there is no denying the fact that the government has miserably failed to tide over the crisis arising from the outbreak, it is not solely responsible for the devastating consequences of the pandemic.

Countries like Japan and China are among a few countries in the world which could be able to successfully stop the spread of covid through novel and effective policies. But they could not have succeeded

without the utmost cooperation extended by their citizens by diligently abiding by the covid norms in letter and spirit. Blaming each other will do no good to anyone. In keeping with the spirit of the Sanskrit maxim, Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam (entire world is a family), we all need to work in tandem for the wellbeing of the world united against the common enemy.

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The opinion expressed in the article is of the writer. Writer is a freelance journalist/journalist based in Delhi

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