My Reality Vs Their Reality

Dr Vibhuti Ubbott
As I passed through the stressful phase of my father’s acute health fall and his passing away during pandemic last year (due to some other fatal disease), I thought the worst is over till the time I joined my service back after availing a long leave. As I went back to my job at a time when the pandemic had been spreading its feet at an unprecedented pace, I was already panicking. How will I protect myself from this deadly virus was my constant worry. What added to my anxiety was the attitude of people blatantly ignoring the reality of the hour. Leave aside maintaining social distance, people moving around without masks or wearing the mask wrongly, or removing them during talking have been the most common sights.
This is despite the fact that the Doctors and the Scientists are insisting on the air-borne nature of the virus. All this has reinforced the anguish of early days of Covid into me. This anguish that is simmering inside me is about people who do not bother to take care of themselves, nor are they concerned about putting others in danger. At the time of my writing this piece,the country is witnessing the highest surge in the number of infections as well as deaths due to Covid. For that matter, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has been observing the sharpest spike in cases and deaths. As on 21st April, 2021, India recorded over three lakh cases in a single day which happens to be the world’s highest single-day spike. 2104 deaths on the same day is yet another record for India.
Likewise, 2204 persons testing positive for the virus creates all-time high record for J&K too. But the irony of things is that people still seem to be in a position of denial. They are skeptical about getting their tests done, unconvinced about wearing masks and maintaining distance. Mainly they are not yet ready to understand and undertake their responsibility in this situation. It is generally believed that the primary accountability in such difficult times rests on the State and Government.
True, the state has to provide us the infrastructure but, the individual responsibility cannot be totally evaded. Instead of enforcement of Covid appropriate behavior, the citizenry should be the main drivers of righteous conduct in the society. Fatigue of staying at homes for long or avoiding gatherings and functions cannot be the excuses, strong enough, to put one’s own life and safety (as well as those of others) in danger.
Amid Vaccine and Oxygen shortages , physically and mentally exhausted health workers and rapidly rising cases, it is imperative for all of us to identify our roles and responsibilities and act accordingly. Basically, we need to set our priorities right. Attending massive religious events, hosting large functions and feasts, calling enormous rallies or protests are some of the many things that need to be postponed or avoided.
As the days are passing by and the number of cases is increasing, my anguish is giving place to dread. As I dread the infection and put two masks on my face, I find people feeling fatigued by the continued abnormal situation and they are keen to resume normal life without any restrictions. They want to enjoy themselves, attend parties, visit restaurants, be part of the large groups, pose for Facebook and go holidaying in hill stations. They have lost the patience to wait for the virus to vanish. After fearing the virus for the first few months and observing the covid appropriate protocol for a few months, they just declared ‘no more’.
They came back to routine with a bang and went into a denial mode – saying that the virus does not exist. The situation has changed suddenly for all of us. But there are still many who still live in the reality of the past few months and continue to ignore the covid appropriate behaviour. They don’t wear masks, they don’t maintain social distance and they still don’t take the pandemic seriously.
As I see people declaring that they are uncomfortable in wearing even one mask, my thoughts go to the health workers with full PPE kits on their bodies, feeling the heat of the rising summer temperature and getting uncomfortable too. But they don’t have any other choice and they have to be in this condition for long hours working tirelessly in the situation. As I dread the loss of my loved ones to the pandemic, I see people not bothering the rising number of deaths in the country and my sympathies go to the people whose loved ones are being cremated at night, keeping rituals at stake, and not getting proper farewell as also to those who are waiting for the space to get their loved ones cremated or buried. As I dread the scenes of mass cremations taking place, aired by different News channels, I wonder what would be the mental state of people working at various cremation centres when they are requesting hospitals to delay the release of dead bodies to the family members. As I dread the number of deaths taking place in the country, I ponder what might be the real situation as regards the actual number of affected cases – as is generally understood, the real number is much higher than the official figures. But one thing I dread most is the indifferent attitude of the people to the existent reality. For many, whom I request to keep their masks on, prolonged use of masks seems dreadful, keeping distance from friends looks dreadful but I feel, seeing burning pyres of bodies is more dreadful, watching people gasping for breath is much painful. But somehow, I also feel that I live in a different world and my reality is different from the reality of people around me.
(The author is Assistant Professor of Political Science Government Degree College, Samba)