Malcolm Carvalho in Bangalore. Picture: Supplied
Malcolm Carvalho in Bangalore. Picture: Supplied

Covid-19 in Delhi: ’The sound of an ambulance doesn’t seem odd anymore’

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Feelings of the Time, No. 140, Malcolm Carvalho in Bangalore:

I’m enraged at how our establishment has handled the pandemic, at how elections and religion still take priority over human life in our country. Enraged at how our government neglects health care in spite of Covid having been around for over a year. Enraged at our people who still use a pandemic to create communal divides.

I admit I’m jealous of the friends who’ve migrated abroad. I’ve never wanted to leave the country, but recently I’ve been wondering if I made the right decision.

During WhatsApp discussions with friends, I often think: ‘You don’t have much at stake here. Your concern is appreciated, but please, delve into the ground reality before you sermonise, show some empathy.’

I want to say news updates and statistics will only tell you this much, only so much your distant scepticism can help. That you can’t know how bad it is unless you are here, in our cities where the sound of an ambulance is so frequent now, it doesn’t seem odd anymore – I hear a siren even as I am writing this.

Where streets are lifeless, and the children don’t step out for their evening games. Where we can’t meet friends for months, and when we do, we hug each other with caution, not knowing when the infection can strike. Where every day we learn of entire families testing positive, and the worry that comes with it – what if anyone gets serious? Where my WhatsApp groups often have messages asking for information about hospital beds.

I feel guilty for wondering if things would have been better if I had been elsewhere. Guilt for not wanting to fight this, for wanting to step away, for wishing someone else could do my emotional labour. Guilt for feeling lucky to have contracted the infection and sailing through it.

Then there’s helplessness, knowing we can only wait out this time. And yet hope that this will subside, and give us more time to fight the next onslaught, whenever it comes.

Hope that my city, even if it looks like a ghost town now, will wake up soon. Hope that this house will see more people, more than just my partner and me.”

This was first published on the Facebook page of blogger Mayank Austen Soofi as part of his coverage using reader stories to depict the unfolding pandemic.

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