The Littlest of Things.

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“We live to be happy.
We live to be humble.
We live to exist.
We live for our future.
But we also live to die.”

I became a compulsive redditor sometime last year and this would be my hobby. After putting the kids to bed and getting the house in order, I would spend time reading interesting articles and opinions. It was on reddit, that I came across the novel coronavirus probably in early January. Very few people had then heard of it and as I would browse article upon article of the situation in Wuhan and watch videos of Li Zehua and Chen Quishi and so many others who were trying to tell us about the situation, I would occasionally tell my sleepy husband that this is going to be big if it reaches here, but he would laugh it off. My reddit pursuits then gradually shifted to amazon where I started stocking up on masks; I even found cute ones for the kids and I think I stocked up on masks for at least 6 months way back then. I started getting paranoid but kept it to myself mostly, as the little bit I would discuss with people, I realized it wasn’t being taken seriously.

January came and went; then came India’s first case. This was excluding the students brought back from Wuhan in January. The Delhi man who had returned from Europe. I went a step further and stocked up on groceries. I was still laughed upon. I also started pestering my husband to write a will especially about who would look after our kids in the worst-case scenario (Just like the FRIENDS episode). He still thought I was crazy. My daughter turned 5 and she had the best party ever (described in her own words) at a soft play area which we probably won’t be visiting in a long long time to come.

March came. Holi was subdued. We did celebrate albeit just to keep the kids happy as my almost 3 y old now knew what Holi entailed and we did not want to curb his enthusiasm. This was followed by a dance medley by my daughter’s dance group and a dinner with friends… again something which we do not see happening again soon.

Lockdown came and continued. Work persisted but slowed down considerably and our team thought it was best to divide a couple of days per person. It was harder on the residents. My free time, which was hardly any, most of it being consumed by household chores and keeping the kids busy, went into more redditing and reading guidelines. Our hospital became the town’s only Covid hospital. A hundred questions would enter my mind daily. How do we keep ourselves safe? How do we keep our familes safe? How do we keep our patients safe? Should we operate? What PPE should be worn and what protocols should be followed? That is when it hit me. Everyone was in the throes of confusion. We were alone. We did not know what to do. Everyone was apprehensive, hesitant, anxious. Every call I got from a team member was filled with worry. I became a listener and tried to trouble shoot problems of family, friends, neighbours, my obstetric team, other colleagues, my maid, my driver, my dhobi… everyone. My husband became my listener and biggest support.

Lockdown continued. Desperately tried to get a dinosaur cake for my boy’s 3rd birthday… his only request. Fortunately, someone came to my rescue. My dinosaur obsessed son who can’t pronounce his dad’s name but can clearly pronounce words like Ankylosaurus and Parasaurolophus turned three in a quiet celebration. I shifted focus to my kids. My lifeline. My husband still would not even hear of “where will the kids go” conversation and said name one Doctor couple where both died of Covid-19. I started taking numerous pictures and videos of the kids. I taught my daughter how to play our favorite song “You are my Sunshine” on the Casio. I would quietly kiss them when sleeping and whisper to them words of endearment as they slept.

May 2020. It was bound to happen as has happened in several institutes in Delhi and Mumbai. Most of my team, not including me, was quarantined due to an inadvertent exposure. The same day, we received two more Covid-19 obstetric patients. I packed my bags and shifted to the campus. This was inevitable. This was expected. This was overwhelming. This had to happen. And now I wait for what lies ahead. For my patients, for my family, for my country and for this world. Let us put this wait to good use. And smile at the littlest of things.

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