Just when I thought things couldn’t rile me up more than they already had, the news of the first coronavirus case being detected in my hometown broke. When the 21-day lockdown was announced last night, I felt a little worried about my boomer parents who lived on their own in a town over 700 kilometeres from me. They had grocery stocked up, they will be okay, I convinced myself. But things changed this morning. Partly because my father is a practising paediatrician, who is still stepping out to see patients every day. Being a frontline healthcare professional, he doesn’t have the luxury to stay at home, or limit his exposure to the sick at the hospital. His only defence right now is maintaining hygiene and wearing a mask. At home is my mother, who stands at risk too, because of my father’s profession. What will I do if ever a situation arises where they need one of their children to be by their side? This thought is sitting like a knot in my stomach.
The coronavirus pandemic has unravelled so fast and which such intensity, there was no time to plan this through for most of us.
Health care professionals or not, there are many adults who are living away from their boomer parents. Especially daughters, who have married and moved away from their native cities, and whose parents won’t come to live with them because of cultural stigmas that run in their blood. No amount of persuasion can get them to move, unless they are pushed into the corner. This could have been one such situation, but the coronavirus pandemic has unravelled so fast and which such intensity, there was no time to plan this through for most of us.
We thought we could reach our parents if the need arises. We could call them over. But now with almost all modes of transport suspended, state borders closed and the entire nation under lockdown, we are all stuck where we are. I know travelling would have been a foolish decision even if a transport was available. But I wonder how many of us have the discipline needed to not respond, if ever a call for help came from our parents, partner, children or siblings. All we can do is hope that the loved ones away from home stay safe.
I have a sibling who is stuck alone in Mumbai all on her own. No roommates. With supplies she is not sure will last her for 21 days. It would have taken me three hours on a normal day to reach her. But right now I cannot. She is braving the lockdown on her own.
We thought we could reach our parents if the need arises. We could call them over. But now with almost all modes of transport suspended, state borders closed and the entire nation under lockdown, we are all stuck where we are.
And then there are students, daily wage workers who have little money in their pockets, who just want to go home so that they can be taken care of by their families. It is easy to criticise people for refusing to stay put where they are. But put yourself in their shoes. A clueless teenager who might be away from the home for the first time. An employee who has lost their job and has no money to pay rent or buy food. Should one blame the government then, for not planning this lockdown properly? Did they have enough time to plan though? Looking at the situation worldwide, it feels like this lockdown is of utmost priority while caring for those without resources is an afterthought.
Criticising the government is the easy way out though. I recently interviewed entrepreneur Devita Saraf, who has donated her one month’s salary to provide food and medicine packages to the underprivileged. We can do the same and help in controlling this panic. Don’t hoard groceries. Give your maids paid leave, offer them atta, chawal or dal, if they are in need. If you can do more, reach out to NGOs and offer to donate money.
Close home, keep constantly in touch with your boomer parents. We have this amazing gift of technology at our disposal, we can see each other, chat and offer support despite being miles apart. We do not know what these coming 21 days have in store for us, all we can do is be there for each other, virtually.
The views expressed are the author’s own.