On Christmas day last year, my father-in-law, who had been unwell for 3-4 days, was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed as Covid positive. The next day my brother-in-law, Unni and Uma (who looks looks after me 24*7; she is younger than Sujit, has been with us for over 3 years, helps Jaya a lot and has become like a daughter for us now) went to the hospital since they were unwell. Uma tested Covid positive while Unni tested Covid negative but was admitted in 'suspected Covid ward' since he was showing certain symptoms.
On the next day, my mother-in-law was showing a lot of weakness and couldn't move or eat anything so she was taken to the hospital by Sujit. (He had come a couple of days earlier and was staying with my mother because people were sick at home and we did not want him to catch an infection.) Although she was diagnosed as Covid negative, she was admitted in the 'suspected Covid ward' since she had certain symptoms.
This meant that Jaya and me were the only ones at home. Sujit spoke to his branch manager who agreed to work out some way to take a long leave during his period of probation and asked him to stay on in Coimbatore. (All three of us had tested negative.) We hadn't expected his bank (Federal Bank) to be so accommodating and his stay proved very helpful. He continued to stay with my mother who made the meals and sent them to Jaya through him.
Thus passed a couple of tension-filled weeks. Jaya had always stayed with people around with whom she could talk so she found it tough to stay alone. (Conversing with me is not the same as conversing with a person who can talk.) Expectedly, my father-in-law, who is 84, had the toughest time. It was an emotional roller coaster ride for all of us till he was shifted from the ICU to the ward after 10 days. Another cause for worry was Unni who had a persistent cough for many days which made it difficult for him talk or sleep peacefully.
My mother-in-law and Uma were discharged after a week and they were then quarantined in a hotel room. After another week, Uma tested negative so both were brought home. Uma was almost back to normal which made Jaya and me very happy. My mother-in-law is still weak. Moreover, about a month before Covid struck, she had had a fall which caused multiple fractures in her right palm. The fractures have healed but the fingers have less flexibility now so she is more dependent on Jaya than before.
My father-in-law and Unni were discharged on 12th. The former is on two liters of oxygen and is very tired. They have been quarantined in another room for a week and I have not yet met them. This is being done mainly to ensure that I don't get any infection because that would greatly complicate matters.
This domestic disruption caused by Covid again illustrated one of Gandhi’s concerns about modernity: the focus on the universal while ignoring the particular. (I see Gandhi everywhere these days.) When I came across Covid only in the news, it was all about disembodied statistics like positivity rates, recovery rates, etc. But when Covid came home, I became more aware of the tensions that people go through, the suffering, the long road to recovery, etc.
There seems to be a dangerous sense of complacency surrounding the vaccine. People seem to feel that once the vaccine is administered, it will be business as usual. Governments at the moment are still ostrich-like, thinking, lets just go back to the same old ways of printing money. Kickstart lending again to get capital flowing. People will be able to borrow again, people will be able to buy things again. It's all going to be fine.
There doesn’t seem to be a realization that there will be new viruses causing worldwide pandemics due to widespread travel. Due to continuing habitat destruction, humans and wild animals will keep coming into contact causing more virus jumps across species. I heard the science writer Carl Zimmer say that he is reluctant to make any predictions but there is one prediction that he can make with a fair degree of certainty: there will always be some sort of flu caused by some sort of virus.
PS: I will resume my regular posts about 'Arundhati Roy on Gandhi' from next week.