Life In Time Of Corona: What Being A Wife To A War Veteran Doctor Has Taught This Chennai Resident
“I think the cynical people are completely overshadowed by the actual, positive and contributing people. They are a dying breed and deserve indifference.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a Janata Curfew on 22 March and people's tribute to India's frontline warriors fighting the spread of Covid-19 saw people from across different walks of life present a deeply emotional response.
Two weeks later, Modi has called for another such gesture in oneness, towards positivity and wellness, through the use of light at 9 pm, today (Sunday, 5 April).
A week after the nationwide lockdown was announced by Modi, India saw several incidents where intense ungratefulness erupted from a section of the public.
Doctors, nurses, health care workers, and policemen, and even ASHA workers have been subjected to uncivilised behaviour, which has been erupting in the form of manhandling, spitting at them and throwing of stones. These incidents have been widely covered by all sections of the media.
Many responsible citizens have been pained by this show of this ungratefulness and focused harassment of frontline workers.
On social media, the constant clash between positivity of those folks who go with Modi's gestures and calls, and the cynicism (coated with negativity) from people who are opposed to his ideas, continues.
Why do (most) people choose to give a rousing welcome to Modi's call for positive gestures in this long fight against coronavirus?
One bit of the wide and vast answer to it came from Chennai on 22 March.
That day, once the music of unity and collective prayers receded at around 5.15 pm, videos from across India poured into social media.
One of them posted on Twitter caught the attention of this author.
The video, posted by Jayapriya, a Chennai-based professional, who works in the education sector, shows herself using a tambourine for the tribute.
Jayapriya mentions in the tweet that her hhusband is a doctor -- a critical care specialist.
She believes that such tributes must be paid again and again to healthcare workers, nurses, safai karamcharis, policemen, ASHA workers, and other workers putting up a human barrier of efforts against Covid-19.
Jayapriya tells Swarajya: "One has to really make an effort to remain optimistic and confident in the face of Covid-19 spread in the country."
The clanging of utensils saw a cynical reception from Modi's opponents and sections of the society. Today's event has generated similar negativity from the same sections before it has even happened.
This author asked Jayapriya what she thinks about such negative and plummeting diversions during adversity facing the nation. She said, "I think the cynical people are completely overshadowed by the actual, positive and contributing people. They are a dying breed and deserve indifference."
According to her, the only way a Covid-19 like situation can be fought is with utmost optimism and the can-do attitude.
She believes that it is extremely important for one to be cautious, but one can't be careless in the name of being optimistic.
She adds, "You call it faith in god, you call it faith in yourself. You have to remain courageous and confident. You have to lean towards something that enthuses that into you."
She calls such gestures a "method towards self preservation."
Her husband is a war veteran. He is currently serving in Pune. In his absence from Chennai, their city of stay, Jayaprpiya and their children get a chance to video chat with him. He video chats with his parents as well. There are small updates exchanged over these calls.
She says that her husband is not very given into giving details about his work. "It has been very basic skeletal stuff normally. It is not a big change even now. He asks us to stay protected and take care of ourselves."
According to her, the tribute to frontline warriors fighting Covid-19 was a very necessary and important gesture -- not just for doctors -- but for Covid-19 warriors on the whole.
Jayapriya shares a few points from her observation of her husband and others in the doctors' community.
She says, "From my observation, what I can say is that doctors work from the highest level of motivation and Maslow's hierarchy of needs”.
“They can't work on low levels of motivation like recognition. They have to work on self actualisation -- only because such are the challenges, and such is the proximity to life and death that you can't have a sense of perspective if you were wanting rewards and recognition. Yet, it was nice to show gratefulness towards them”.
Her parents-in-law are very proud of their son, supportive of the fact that he is doing something "which is of very good human value".
She adds, "He was in 'there' during the Kargil crises and in the thick of quite a few combat zones. Which is why he chose critical care as his specialisation, he has been quite exposed to high trauma situations."
As for herself, being courageous was the way to be through her husband's work. That's the only trait one needs to cultivate, as per her.
She adds: "Why would you want to be weak and succumb to it and attract a lot of other small and big weaknesses in you? Once you lose trust, you also acquire a very debilitating attitude even if there is a solution to it."
She was far younger when her husband was serving in combat zones and "went through a lot of trauma."
She gradually realised what works: "The faith; that there is a compassionate deity that is protecting you at all times, you have to have a surrender within. Otherwise there is no way one can cope with the volatility involved in the situation."
The blistering show of averse attitude towards the front line warriors from a section of the public against Covid-19 warriors has bothered her.
Jayapriya tells Swarajya, "There is a lot of work that goes into making a doctor. The nurses and healthcare workers are warriors who are putting their lives into deep risk thoroughly in the wake of the coronavirus spread."
Towards the end, she mentions her gratitude for Vasanth, the safai karamachari who works meticulously to keep their locality in Chennai clean during the Covid-19 scenario.
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