COVID-19: From smaller problem to bigger ones

“Humein Beemari se Ladna Hai, Beemar se Nahi.”
JAMMU: There comes a point when the problems that you’re facing recede to the back of your mind; yes, the cardinal problems. This happens because another problem with the potential of becoming a cardinal sin, branches out from them. While you’re barely clinging on in the first place, you abruptly find that now you’re facing an issue that you never thought could be a problem. Let me rephrase by stating that you assumed that it couldn’t be a problem only to find that how basic it was to the upcoming series of problems. In fact, what is happening is that we are doing the opposite of what we should be doing. We are fighting the patients, not the disease. Almost everyone reading this, over the course of the lockdown, would have heard a pleasant yet worried recorded voice telling you, among other things, “Humein Beemari se Ladna Hai, Beemar se Nahi.” That is how minutely we’re being reminded. But we choose to commit the same mistake of seeing but not observing, of listening but not processing and so on.
COVID-19 is the foundation of the problems faced today across the globe especially in India. The immense superstructures being built over it are of our own making. Every wrong doing can be pointed back to it. But there are some problems that find their roots in the very human psyche and COVID-19 has nothing to do with them. The branching out problem is the stigma being attached to anyone who is either suffering from it or the families of the ones who have succumbed to it. And of course, this stigma finds its roots in an increasingly popular and nationally prevalent ideology of US v/s THEM. Them here are the patients not the disease. Us here are the ones who have not been infected yet. You can apply this ideology to a lot of things going on across the nation today. However, I shall leave that only to your good judgement.
The point is that we are attaching a stigma to something that is not in our control. But that’s what stigmas are all about in the first place. I can accept the argument that the infected person was careless and/or didn’t take the necessary precautions. Had the precautions been fool proof then they would have been called vaccines. Moreover, what’s the stigma about? Nobody is getting infected voluntarily. We could have as easily been infected as the other person irrespective of the precautions we have been taking. So what is this based on? Some weird idea of Karma? Apart from that nothing explains or rather justifies your behaviour towards somebody who is as vulnerable as you are in front of the enemy. But really an irony that it is still happening.
A shopkeeper tested positive and started getting calls from the customers who had been purchasing grocery from him. They abused him for putting their lives at risk when they knew very well that they had taken the risk as soon as they’d stepped out of their house. A family was not allowed to cremate their dead based on the cause of the death. It would not be wrong to say that this is discrimination at the level of our very existence. A son had to bury his mother in their own family garden as the cemetery denied him a 2 and half feet wide and 8 feet long patch of land. It’s a corona victim who’ll disturb the peace of the dead..? This deed would have made the ones still watching weep. These are some instances that I’ve heard. I’m sure there are many you all have heard and hopefully only a few of you’ve experienced.
The fact is that we find ourselves existing on untested waters. The test is to understand that we’re in it together. We are all literally sailing in the same boat. It’s going to be a way of life now and only when everyone else gets out of it, shall we too stand a chance. In such a scenario there is absolutely no place for this stigma. It is high time to realize that for this seemingly small problem if not handled with caution sans contempt it can explode into much bigger problems. That’s because it goes beyond everything else; beyond politics, disease and death. It’s about basic human dignity. And believe me, surviving without it is really not worth the effort.