On 23rd March 2020, I was packing my bag to leave for Kashmir (my hometown) from Pune as the threat of Covid-19 was increasing and everyone wanted to stay with their families in this time of distress.  I was happy and sad, happy because it was an unexpected visit to home and sad because the disease was spreading rapidly, and everyone was in dilemma of what will happen next, including my parents. The threat that Covid-19 had spread was evident in the voice of my parents when they called me two days before to tell me to come back home by saying these words “agar marun ti aasi ikwatai marow” which means if we have to die, we will die together. So, I immediately booked my tickets for 25th of March but little did I know the Government will announce complete lockdown from 25th of March and my tickets will be cancelled.  After hearing the news on 23rd of March, I immediately rebooked new tickets for 24th of March. As it was the last day of travel before lockdown, I couldn’t find a direct or a connecting flight to Srinagar so, I booked 3 flights which were from Pune to Delhi, Delhi to Jammu and Jammu to Srinagar.

I along with a friend packed my bags taking necessary stuff not forgetting hand sanitizer, gloves, face mask and left for airport. I was nervous and stressed, less about whether we will be able to reach on time and more about all the people, the trolleys, the aircraft and everything that had the potential to carry and spread Covid-19.  I had my fingers crossed, I wore the N95 mask, the gloves, kept the sanitizer handy and left. To my surprise, I could only find an auto rickshaw which, I immediately hired to airport. We stepped in the rickshaw and the first thing, I noticed was the driver was neither wearing a mask nor gloves.  It bothered me, but the thing that was bothering me more was to reach airport on time. So we left and reached airport, that too on time. The rickshaw driver charged us 1000 INR for the journey of 200 INR. I was surprised, was he charging 800 INR more for putting his life at risk or it was just a chance for him to earn extra money because if he would have been worried about covid-19 he would have at least worn a mask and gloves to protect himself. We gave him the money and entered the airport.

Little did I know the scene, I will witness at the airport will incite a number of questions in my mind. As I proceeded towards the entrance, I wanted to make sure that, I will maintain a distance of at least one metre but, I didn’t know the people were still concerned more about who will make it to the entrance first. As if it was a kind of race and the person who enters first will be given a prize. I stood in the queue at least one metre away from the person who was in front of me and, I heard a voice from my back “madam thoda aagay chaliye hamari flight miss hojayegi” which means madam move a little bit ahead, otherwise we will miss our flight. How was my moving ahead by one metre going to help him to catch his flight on time?  So it was the first murder of the social distancing that, I encountered.

I entered the airport all geared up with a mask, gloves, making sure I won’t touch anything unnecessarily and thought everyone will do the same, as the threat of Covid-19 had spread like wildfire but, I witnessed a different scene inside the airport and the scene was almost same in all the four airports that, I had been to that day. People were behaving as if everything was as normal as it was a pre Covid-19 world. There were people with no masks, no gloves, some of them were eating  food, some charging their phones and touching everything that came across them. I expected that the airport authorities will take all the precautions but to my surprise, I found most of the employees without a mask or gloves even if they were dealing with thousands of passengers and you never know who will be carrying the infection. At one of the airport during this journey when we were in queue waiting for our bags to get checked in, the people in the queue were literally pushing each other to move ahead and as usual instead of a single queue they made three different queues (aadat se majboor) and the airport authorities were literally begging them to please maintain distance, for which some moved one or two steps back and as soon as the employee left they went back to what they were doing.  Yes, there were people who were taking all the necessary precautions but looking at other people a question arose in my mind, why do these people think that nothing is going to happen or if it will happen, it won’t affect them? Does the virus spare people just because they think they are invincible? No, it doesn’t.

After thinking for a long period, I myself found answer to these questions to which some may agree and some may disagree. The reasons behind the callous attitude of people may be many, but according to me some of the reasons are:

  1. Majority of people in the country want to continue their normal routine of life no matter what.
  2. The Government could have announced the lockdown days prior to when it was announced which would have helped us to contain the spread of virus at an early stage and the situation could have been better.
  3. Even after lockdown was announced people continued to move outside and tried to defy the restrictions and in many cases the police had to use force to stop people from moving around.
  4. During its earlier days of spread when everyone knew that the virus has entered the country, many actions could have been taken to contain its spread like cancelling all the gatherings be it religious, social, political or others but nothing like that happened. People continued to attend those gatherings which added the fuel to the fire.
  5. The religious leaders could have played a major role in this, because majority of the people are driven by faith and believe more in religion than in science. The religious leaders could have given certain speeches about how important it is to contain the spread of this infection, may be that would have motivated more and more people to stay at home or to take necessary precautions.
  6. Masks and sanitizers could have been distributed to those people who can’t afford them.

 

We can face the similar or even worse challenges in future because we never know what the future holds for us, so it is not only the virus that needs to be contained, it is the mind-set that needs to be shaped.

Rimsha Rashid is a Nursing Research Scholar


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One Comment

  1. Avatar rashokkumar says:

    Modern civilization with its vested interest science: World Dam Dynamics the cause.
    See Ramaswami Ashok Kumar.2020. CORONAVIRUS AND LIFE IN 2020- A Macro Perspective. Blogspot. At the link:
    https://livingnormally.blogspot.com/2020/03/coronavirus-and-life-in-2020-macro.html