Love in the time of COVID-19
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns, Coronavirus Update

Love in the time of COVID-19

January 24, 2021

The world, according to reports, learnt of Coronavirus disease rather late by few months when people began to die of the scourge not knowing how to treat such patients. China was considered the culprit and those who travelled to that country became the carries of the virus. And China with its booming economy, there is hardly any country that did not have contact with it.

By March 2020, it had already spread all over the world and the period of lockdown began with the world desperately looking for a cure. It decided “Prevention is better than cure” and banned international flights and travel. The effective preventive measure was recommended and even enforced — wear mask covering your nose and mouth, keep social distance and keep washing your hands with sanitisers. And the elders stay in isolation at home for ultimate safety.

Now we are in the month of January 2021 with a slightly sanguine world where in many countries the pandemic cases have been steadily coming down and most important development is the availability of vaccine as a preventive medicine. It is already being given to people in many countries and the response is encouraging. Another sanguine development is the absence of Donald Trump as the President of America! Though many may not agree, specially the white supremacists!! Let it be.

Thus in the prevailing situation about the pandemic we may reflect on the role of LOVE as a sentiment in times of this pandemic. Looking back one will realise that the impact of this Coronavirus, which did not discriminate between different countries in spreading its scourge, has been different to different sections of the people — working class, the elders, retired and the sick and ailing patients with other types of diseases. 

It is said the element of fear of contracting Coronavirus was so severe that non-Corona patients began to avoid going to their regular doctors in the hospitals and preferred getting their prescriptions or doctor’s opinion on cell phone — SMS, WhatsApp or e-mail ! Some doctors obliged, some collected payments through Google Pay or PhonePe and some never responded. As for hospitals, they continued to remind their old patients of the services available and how it can be availed. But where humanity and love abound hope blooms. 

I am lucky. Since 1993, I have been a hospital bird and could come close to many doctors. And all of them were responsive during this past year of pandemic. However, there are difficult patients too who are too demanding from the doctors, some even cantankerous, expecting a miracle cure. Of course, doctors know how to put them in their place in a most gentle way. Doctors by and large love patients who co-operate with them rather than become guides to them after going through the internet, Google. That is probably when a doctor begins to love the patient’s money rather than the patient !

Besides the healthcare concerns, be as they may, there are other issues a person had to face during the pandemic. During lockdown, the problem of getting locked-down in our own house. Mercifully for family persons it is not solitary confinement. Even so, these periods taught us the importance of freedom of movement.

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The past one year has been an year for Social Media that really went berserk, pandering to those who were desperate to pass time in this time of pandemic with all kinds of WhatsApps, messages and advice, suggestions and more. One Social Media message in the early days of Coronavirus has divided the population into categories — children, teenagers, youngsters, adults, seniors, those who are above 60, above 70 and above 80 and beyond. And it prescribed what kind of preventive steps should be taken by each category apart from the standard protocol for all — wear the mask covering your nose, keep social distance and keep sanitising your hands. So each category began to get tons of Love from the other categories by way of monitoring each other to ensure the protocol is observed — to the point of irritation. But Love of life supersedes all irritations!

I am told of instances where employers have displayed great human quality by accommodating their employees who had special problems during these periods — whether in the matter of payment of salaries or in enabling them to adjust to the changed work culture and working time. Of course, there were some employers who took due or undue advantage of the pandemic, exploited the employees or denied the comfort during the difficult days.

I know of a few employers who took back to service those who had resigned fearing the Coronavirus but later wanted to join service due to domestic financial constraints or due to the long period of life in confinement — boring and depressing. That is the Love the noble employers have shown to the fellow human beings in times of this pandemic.

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I have seen and heard of many neighbours, of families without anyone to help them to get ration, medicine or even medicare, voluntarily going to the help of such families. That is Love in the times of Coronavirus.

And there are cases where those who have fallen passionately in Love with each other but could not wait for Coronavirus to go away soon, either running away or getting their parents to agree to conduct the marriages under duress. The protocol laid down by the Government for such marriages is observed more in its breach than in its compliance. Indeed, after the happy marriage, some guests were reported testing positive for the Coronavirus. But then one attends such functions where people gather in large numbers at his or her own risk. It is here destiny comes to play !

In spite of taking every care some get COVID-19, some survive and some do not. And in spite of being careless about COVID-19 protocol, nothing happen to some. Destiny?

A friend who visited me a couple of days back gave me a prolonged ‘discourse’ on destiny when the subject of Coronavirus came up in our homily conversation.

According to what he had heard there are two kinds of Destiny. One, Ultimate Destiny, another Conditional Destiny. Animals are guided by Ultimate Destiny because they cannot make or take a decision as they do not have Free Will. But a human being (man) is endowed by nature (God) a Free Will with which he can take a decision about his life. Wise-men make use of this Free Will. When a difficult decision is to be taken, he will neither choose the extreme right nor the extreme left. He would choose the Middle Path until he finds one of the other paths is conducive. Of course, it is the advice of Lord Buddha also, who always emphasised on following the Middle Path for a happy, contented life.

In my office reception, I have hung a photo of Swami Vivekananada with a message printed at the bottom — You are the Master of your Destiny (ನಿನ್ನ ಬಾಳಿನ ಶಿಲ್ಪಿ ನೀನೇ).

In sum, it can be said that despite Coronavirus, with our Free Will, just as a ship in the rough seas charters its course, we too can manage and come out of the scourge of Coronavirus. All that is needed is Love for yourself and LOVE for the humanity.

Sarve Santu Niramayah  [May all be free from disease]

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