I’ve had some nasty experience these last few weeks. Ordinarily, the events wouldn’t have been anything special. But it was the time of corona virus scare.
I remember the scourge had started as some distant event we read about in the dailies with sympathy. It was foreign and remote. All this changed suddenly and the monster stopped being a foreign phenomenon, and turned into some ugly beast that now lived in our backyard. A real threat.
Immediately this happened, our governments swung into action with total lockdown imposed on the citizens. It was a nasty experience that left the economy battered and the masses impoverished. Although government disbursed palliative materials and even gave out cash, they were able to reach less than one tenth of the population.
Soon after, criminal activities got on the rise and insecurity became palpable. With this ugly turn of events, the citizens started clamouring for the lockdown to be eased or totally removed. And that was exactly what the governments did: in places where the infections were rampant, the lockdown was only eased; in places where the infections were few, the lockdown was lifted – except for schools.
Everybody was relieved. But ironically, that was when my own travail began.
Like the rest of the downtrodden population, I was broke and was badly in need of money. My job – teaching in a private school – was one of the chief victims of the pandemic. For over four months, the school wasn’t generating any income. But at the beginning, we still managed to pay us full salaries. But three months later, only half salary, which we gratefully accepted, was possible. And why wouldn’t we be grateful when other schools around had furloughed all their staff, locking them out of their heart like outcasts.
But the truth was the full salary was never even enough let alone half salary!
Fortunately for me (at least so I thought then), an old friend was in town and he had got some money he wanted to invest. It was an angelic rescue mission.
We got down to work highlighting the potential businesses he could invest in and it wasn’t long before we settled for buying and selling of goats and rams as it was the period of Eid ul-Adah when Muslims kill sacrificial animals.
For three consecutive days, we were in the market buying and selling with little regards for the almost over publicised corona virus preventive measures.
Let me say this.
With my level of education, I was not the one to give in to superstitions. I was always a practical person. So all the conspiracy theories about the virus being a hoax failed with me. As a result, I always wore the facemask and used hand sanitizer regularly while outside my home. I also religiously practised social distancing and made sure I kept my hands away from my eyes, nose and mouth.
But as the pandemic dragged on and I grew weary, I started relaxing – letting down my guard. I started leaving my facemask at home, initially out of forgetfulness. Later, intentionally.
So, here I was with thousands of people in the market selling and buying rams without a facemask or keeping social distancing. Money changed hands without anyone thinking of using hand sanitizers or washing our hands with soap and water! We were so desperate and foolhardily negligent.
On the fourth day, I started feeling feverish and lethargy. I had pains all over my body and couldn’t eat anything due to loss of appetite. I had every symptom of the virus I had read about except body temperature.
That was when it hit me that I had wagered my life and would be the luckiest man on earth to get it back.
And so the battle to win back my life began. My immediate family were at the forefront striving to nurse me back to health. I was afraid of going to the hospital for two reasons. One, I was afraid I would be whisked to the isolation centre where sufferers of corona virus were quarantined and treated.
Two, I was afraid of being wrongly diagnosed and subsequently being exposed to the real danger.
Therefore, I went into quarantine at home. I was placed on just paracetamol and some diets which they had to force on me. Beside this, I was only lounging around in the room.
I was bedridden for about five days. And it was the first time the benefits of having a good quality foam for your bed crossed my mind. Despite the long bed rests, I didn’t sore.
No bedsores at all.
After the sixth day, I started getting better. Now, I could stand on my own and my appetite was back. So was my sense of smell. I was recuperating well. My makeshift doctors and nurses did a wonderful job.
It was really traumatic and unsettling to think, for days, that I might have contracted the deadly virus and inevitably die.
Thank God I survived the brush with death. I’ve certainly learnt lots of lessons and wiser.