My father just got his first shot of the vaccine after waiting out his recovery from what has now become an integral part of our lives - the Coronavirus. While I was making a reminder of the date on which he would be getting his second shot, memories of the first couple of days when my father tested positive rushed in. This happened on April 17th, 2020 - last year. He had been feeling a bit heavy in the head for a few days, and like many folks, his mask-wearing etiquette was rather questionable. He has always been someone proud about his immunity, the fact that he played cricket from the school to club level despite all the hardships, and he would never take a sick leave from his workplace [CITIBANK - the CITI never sleeps]. He did not have the reserves of energy to collect the pathology report, and with my bits-and-pieces knowledge about the healthcare genre, I was trusted to gather it and confirm that he wasn't infected - we were rather sure about it. My father, falling ill? A smart betting man would never invest in this preposterous theory!
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The Pandemic Fear was Inside our Home [when someone tests positive]
However, that is not how things would unroll. For starters, the medical tests confirmed the infection. For some reason, as if with some inherent inertia towards believing that we could never be infected, I panicked to such an extent that despite the report clearly mentioning that he was positive, I didn't know what to make of it - I felt confused! The second step was equally frantic. I shared the report with a couple of folks with a more than average understanding of medical terminology. However, the reality was confirmed within a few minutes of my futile efforts at not acknowledging something that was literally as clear as it could be - in black and white.
The next few hours witnessed my anxiety kicking in, and I could feel it in the legs. A type of shakiness that is not visible, and is perhaps not even physically present, but you know, it is there, like micro-magnitude temors. I was just hoping a panic attack does not follow, and luckily, assuming that this is the right word to use here, the stomach cramps just never arrived. I got on to the phone with my father trying my best to explain what should be the next steps but the reality is, I was rather blank, shouting whatever seemed like the best course of action. By now, flashes of my 75-year-old pops had started clouding my mind. The fact is that he had not been aging well. The broad shoulders were already taking a beating. The horizontal spread from one shoulder blade to the other had given way to a slight slope. The shirts had become uncomfortably loose around the neck. Someone who was once known to have oak-like thighs now had legs that looked frail, hairless, and emaciated beyond our belief.
When it does happen, and that too at the peak of the pandemic filling up the crematoriums and graveyards, you really don't have a plan. You are driven primarily by your gut instincts. The mind tends to pull you away from the gravity of what is happening and just when you think you have some sort of a cope-up mechanism working, it hits you with thoughts and worse-case scenarios you just don't have the stomach to process. The fact that he tested positive just a handful of days before his 75th birthday further fueled the thought that perhaps, Life was trying to say something, whispering that it is time to get your act right, as a son, as someone who needs to amend many things with him.
Yes, you think about the inevitable. That particular thought just cannot be banished. You cannot help but ponder over the worth of the last few arguments, both lightweight and nasty ones. I guess every father creates a legacy, weaves it, perhaps even talks about it. But when you face the reality of it coming your way, you feel unprepared, almost naked in apprehension whether you will be able to justify his decades of being a family man and the sacrifices that every middle-class father should make. Besides these feelings, there was a rush for all types of medical supplies, and meal distribution plans, along with a frenzy to ask around about the best possible measures to handicap the infection during its initial stages. Everything borrowed from the science of it to naturopathy to alternative medicine, herbal medicine, and all the crap in between seemed worth the shot.
These memories will keep rushing back every now and then and they will never be discussed with any sort of delight, not even gratitude that we could 'deal' with it because we did not. It happened to us, we reacted to it, and somehow we escaped the ugliest possible outcomes...
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