'JAB' TAK HAI JAAN

Updated: 5 days ago


So finally, I have checked the Covid box and become part of modern history. Not as a witness, but as a survivor. By now, a sizeable population has been there and done that, many surviving to tell the tale, and many unfortunately not making it home. My turn came late, almost like an after-thought.


After dodging the nasty pest for more than two years, I finally got involved in a fling for something more than a casual flirtation. Even as I am typing this the head is woozy and limbs, wobbly. And I am lazing in partial delirium, trying to think coherently.

Beats me. I had done everything right, or at least had not taken it for granted and gone footloose for two full years. I denied myself the small pleasures long after the world got back to revelry. Eschewed all foreign trips and carnival cravings. For the most part, life had become a stack of predictable tasks with no risk attached. Even after four vaccines. And yet, it had to afflict me and shunt me out for more than a week!


‘How?’ Someone asked. There is no answer to it. Covid is a bit like love. You never know the hows, whens and wherefores of it. You realize you are hooked only after you have taken the bait and got into the bed with it.


‘Did we give it to you?’ a dear niece asked. She and her family had hitched the Covid ride recently and had paid us a social visit upon recovery. I laughed it away. No one can ‘give’ it to another, like a bouquet or birthday gift. It just finds its way, like a snaking river, and snuggles into cozy bodies.


I am now surprised that I can speak of Covid using romantic analogies. In two and odd years, it has lost its virulent force. There is no fear of dying anymore, only the tedium and vexation that comes with falling sick and lying curled up in a corner remains.


Yet, there was something about the whole affair that lingered in the head after seeing the previous horrors, as I lay convalescing from a fever and crushing fits of cough. The memories of seeing people in close vicinity losing their loved ones, their pain vicariously becoming mine, the paranoia of getting caught in the uncertainties and a weird sense of walking blindfolded into the future gripped me amidst my broken sleeps.


Many I know had been rash during that time and they had ended up paying the price for it. Many others had been complacent and they too had gone to the brink and miraculously returned. This thing that I was now dallying with was once a slayer of dreams. It had snuffed out millions of lives in a snap.


But here I am, fully inoculated, lucky to have escaped the worst, merely sniffing the surface of a global calamity. It was a humbling thought. One that brought to mind the men and women who must have toiled through the nights in their labs to find a fix for this malady. With what urgency they must have applied themselves to bring the world its life-saving remedy! To what lengths they must have stretched to throw a safety net across the world!


We live in times of unmentionable difficulties that often have no quick solutions. There is suffering and pain everywhere. But we are also living in times where a disease that threatened to wipe out communities en masse was reined in by collective human effort. It shows the indomitable spirit of mankind, its desperate urge to survive against all odds and our eagerness to evolve into something better.


Even in the direst of times in future, and in times when the world seems to fall apart riven by differences, I will think of these days of my mild illness. I will remind myself that it wouldn’t have been mild but for the people who came together to find the formula for the jolly good jab that saved millions like me.


To all those unknown men and women who came through for us, I spare a thought of heartfelt thanks. It is for moments like these that I keep my vault of gratitude wide open. You never know who or what might earn a place there. Or when.

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