The Lone Ranger

GMC Jammu
Dr Shashi Sharma
History has impressions of several pandemics on its wall. And each impression has all shades of sufferings in the form of millions of sicknesses and deaths. But as the human kind has poor long distance memories, we tend to forget to learn and evolve out of the fading colors of the past. That is the reason we continue to suffer to magnanimous levels in the pandemic era of COVID-19. Each new wave is bringing sickness and death with it. And when it goes away and we are lucky to remain behind on earth, we have thousands of stories to tell.
The much stretched misfortune of COVID-19 knocked the nation when the first case that originated in China was reported on 30 January 2020. We as a nation are on a journey of apprehensions and unpredictability since then. Mask has been introduced in our culture as are social behaviours like maintaining social distances and hand washing. We have come to learn new concepts in life. But how much we follow them after inculcating into the superficial pool of our conscious minds the knowledge that comes through research or experience is a grave concern and that very fact demarcates the distance between life and death. We are dying and saturating the crematoriums. And we do not require witnesses to prove it. We eventually all are a witness to the face of sufferings, fear and death as each one of us as a community is touched every moment with that experience. We still do not realize that knowledge is nothing but a mere accumulation of facts. But the virus that is so quickly changing its forms will tend to spare only those who instead of mere accumulation of facts proved through experience and research would rather choose to follow them strictly and with utmost honesty towards the self. We may befool thousands around us with great convictions but impossible is to befool our-self. And those who do it are the same who are becoming sick and dying. The increasing transmissibility of the virus ironically won’t spare their innocent close contacts that exist as their families. The loved ones are paying the price of their belongingness to people who simply are callous and do not realize.
The UT of Jammu and Kashmir has always been known to the world as a heaven that has charmed the guests with its beauty and picturesque surroundings. There is a range of mountains by the name Pir Panjal that naturally divides this piece of land into two geographical locales. One is the Kashmir valley and the other the hills and plains of Jammu. The people on both the sides may speak different languages or live different cultures but their tears carry the same emotions. Virus knows no language and culture. All it knows is the way to identify the particular receptors located in the mucosal lining of our nasopharynx and hide itself layers deep to proliferate and survive and then jump very rapidly to the next target. It is invisible yet powerful enough to make a heaven cry.
In the fight against the atrocities of misfortune brought by the invisible demon the tertiary care hospitals stood up as the divine angels and as goes on through ages of human existence the angels took weapons of defense in their hands. The real weapons like their angelic features were not guns and bombs but saga of divine virtues like endurance, peace, acceptance and trust in the ultimate power of God. We all stood up in these hospitals against all unpredictable odds that the virus would bring to us.
While the valley across was fortunate enough to have multiple tertiary cares dedicated in the service of pandemic hit people, GMC Jammu was observed throughout the toughest times as a lone ranger fighting against the misfortune born of one of the deadliest pandemics human history has ever witnessed. This ranger still stands with the same resilience against SARS CoV 2 with an ever increasing stretch of the limits it sets for itself each coming moment. GMC Jammu knows that if it has to be victorious in war, it has to be four steps ahead of the enemy the world cannot see with unaided eyes. The persistence of growth has been bought by the war itself and that is the good side of the bad times. GMC Jammu has witnessed that transformation where it has stretched from being a soldier exercising its normal duties in the pre COVID era to a limitless commando fighting in the intense battle field and standing upright like a wall between the invisible enemy and the innocent masses. The stretch of the limit was so huge that from a mere 70 ICU beds we are holding more than 800 patients at present who are pandemic hit and require ICU care. This becomes more pertinent when the combined bed strength of all tertiary care hospitals in the valley is of 94 beds.
The deceptive virus makes the people ignore the hospitals and when the condition becomes worse they rush towards us. We get almost all patients seriously ill and large portion of them have already deteriorated to the extent of collapse. A considerable number of those who were brought were brought dead adding to the ugliness of already worsening statistics. The commando has stretched each fiber of its nerves and muscles as each health care worker crosses the human limits of dedication and working capacity. Needless to say that each worker is a single neuronal and muscular unit of this lone commander the world knows as GMC Jammu. The plight of the community is that it finds it much easier to believe half facts or rumours without realizing that those who are donating each moment of their present to serve them do not come from somewhere else but are a part of this community only. Most of them do have old parents at home who are already COVID-19 positive and are at risk. They still work with undivided attention while at the same time keep their loved ones in deepest prayers of their subconscious mind. And while serving they are held responsible for the ugliness of each turning page of the book of misfortune. The worst part is that each pointing finger belongs to those to whom we belong.
(The author is Principal GMC, Jammu)