Home >Opinion >Columns >Amid this darkness, let’s celebrate the lives of those saving humanity

I can’t do it... I won’t be able to do it... everyone is dying... they have been just dying... I don’t have medicines... It’s reaching saturation... I won’t be able to do it... Today, I had lunch at 6pm... Am not able to eat... I can’t wear PPE kit while running from here to there... I have just taken it off and threw it away... Now, I am running around wearing a gown." A young doctor deputed in the ICU of a reputed hospital in Delhi was crying profusely while saying all this to her family members on the phone. Her words felt as if they were being uttered by a person trapped in a tunnel, who sobs to tell her anguish to herself.

No matter what the people in power may say, the bitter reality is that the pandemic has now gone out of their control. Do not make the mistake of considering this black truth as the tragedy of Delhi alone. This is the plight of almost half the cities of this country. The situation is so grim that people are now scared of logging into Facebook; the ringing phone terrifies them and if someone rings the doorbell, they don’t want to open the door. The flooding in of ominous news and various apprehensions have created an unprecedented terror.

Our country, which till yesterday was boasting of conquering corona, has been badly crushed in the face of this global disease. Feeling sorry at our helplessness, our small neighbouring countries, too, are offering help. Definitely, the challenges are huge, and our already hollow system is proving to be colossal failure. When the political powers fail so drastically then the society starts fighting hard for its survival. And in the present times too, some bravehearts have decided to confront this disaster. These are the people whose names are never recorded in history. But time creates history through the deeds of these very people. Let me introduce you to some of these people.

Meet Mithilesh Singh of Lakhimpur Kheri. His young son became a victim of the pandemic. It was a terrible blow of fate, but it did not break Singh. Instead, he decided to save the ailing kids of the neighbourhood. Although the government failed to deliver oxygen to every patient, Singh keeps information about how much oxygen is available every moment and he tries his level best to make it available wherever it is required.

You must have heard about how hospitals and black marketeers of medicines are looting those in need; how life-saving medicines, injections and other things are being sold in black. A well-known neurosurgeon from Ghaziabad was arrested last week on the charges of black marketing of remdesivir. He and his group were earning more than 36 lakh every day from this sinister business. Did he not think even once before indulging in this disgusting act, that he is tarnishing the noble profession of a doctor? Nobody would have expected this from such a well-established doctor. But there are several other young doctors who have put in all their efforts in caring for corona patients.

The phone numbers of seven doctors from Haldwani have been circulating in almost all the local WhatsApp groups. These doctors arrange plasma for covid patients. They remember it by heart the details about availability of oxygen, beds, medicines and all other required facilities. This group of enthusiastic doctors has saved about 100 lives so far. Not only this, if need be, then they reach out with food at the doorsteps of the patients. Almost half of them have not gone home for a year now. Who says the tradition of Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis has died?

In this critical time of crisis, religious organizations have also started providing their services. A gurudwara in Ghaziabad has started an ‘oxygen langar’. If you come by car, they will arrange for oxygen in the car. Gurudwaras have continued the tradition of service across the country, but the story of the Jama Masjid of Secunderabad in Bulandshahr district is somewhat different. When the imam, Maulana Arif, felt that the situation was worsening, he requested the administration to build a covid hospital in the masjid’s vacant area. There are many such places of worship that have opened their doors to the service of humanity. Will those who divide in the name of religion learn some lessons?

During the past one year, the horrors of corona have had the worst impact on school- and college-going children. A recent study by Aligarh Muslim University found that the lockdown last year had a deep and negative impact on the psyche of 44% of the students surveyed. Most of the students have become victims of anxiety. In such a situation, the question is, how to save our new younger generation? Instead of looking for a theoretical answer to this question, B.B. Sharma, a retired additional general manager of State Bank of India, has decided to do something on his own. He went from one residential area to another and started teaching children. Children now know him as the ‘Car wale Masterji’. Nowadays, he is teaching online so that the golden rule of social distancing could be followed.

Last year, during the lockdown, we saw how a large number of people had fled the metro cities for their homes in villages. They were also treated cruelly and ruthlessly in their own villages. This time, the villagers have learnt a lesson. The bitterness of before is missing and resources are being mobilized to fight the disease with necessary modalities. Villagers of Rampur, Lakshmipur, Tighara and Gola of Pipiganj in Gorakhpur district have set up a quarantine centre on their own. People who come from outside first spend 14 days in this centre before starting to live with their families. Its expenses are also shared among the villagers.

When there is tragedy and desperate cries of help everywhere, the purpose of narrating these stories is to underline that we will have to collect our courage ourselves. The characters of these stories are like those little lamps which know that they can’t remove the darkness of the entire Earth, but still have the courage to fight the terrible dark night. Without saying anything, they send across the message that darkness wins only when the lamps lose faith in their light. Salute to these great human beings among us!

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan. The views expressed are personal.

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