Stray thoughts on Senior Citizens in times of COVID-19!
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Stray thoughts on Senior Citizens in times of COVID-19!

June 6, 2020

Since March 2020, I have been living a life of seclusion from my friends, employees and business contacts. But there has been much bonhomie and togetherness with family and grand-children. God’s mercy and grace. Let it be.

I never thought COVID-19 would wreak such searing havoc on our society and all over the world as a pandemic like it is doing now, a scourge stalking across the world. During its early months in November-December 2019 in China where it started and later into 2020 spreading all over the world. In the beginning no one thought that it would last this long. Now we are left without any clue as to when it will fade away or end like a few earlier epidemics or pandemics like SARS, Ebola etc.

But, sadly there was no luck. Our hope, that soon the world Virologists and Scientists will come up with a cure or a preventive vaccine, also seems to look like a mirage. We are in an year of despair. However, I believe, Mother Nature will not leave us in despair for too long. 

And the Senior Citizens are warned that they would be the easy targets for the Coronavirus and most vulnerable. Being an octogenarian in its early years, naturally, I must be careful. In fact I was unaware of my age factor as I remained cooped up in my house, fortunately, with a huge compound. The inevitable monotony in such situations is broken by argumentative family members and the sounds of screaming children running around in their playful euphoria. 

Though admission into the compound by outsiders is barred, it is inevitable to receive what is ordered for the kitchen and household  needs. This entails Social Distancing, Wearing of Mask and Washing of the Hands. That is a small inconvenience for my own safety as also of others in the house who too strictly follow this health-drill.

Interestingly, a friend who is at the threshold of entering the age of 80, cautioned me with 10-point dos and don’ts during this times of COVID-19. First and foremost was: Take care not to fall and break your bones or hurt your head. Be careful while climbing or coming down from the staircases. Always use the railings till the last rung. The next danger zone, he said, was the bathroom.

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Another real-situation advice, ‘Do not stand to wear your trousers. Wear your pants while sitting down.’ Well, I have stopped wearing pants since there is no need now. I am comfortable with shorts. 

The 10th advice is important specially for those who have any kind of ‘piles’ problem. It says, “Do not overuse force in the toilet. Let it come naturally.” Thank you friend. Alleluia!

 Be that as it may, now the question staring at our face is : How long this lockdown (of whatever kind) and how long will this COVID-19 haunt the mankind? In the beginning, I said this year 2020 is the year of despair. But what if it crossed 2020 and marches on leaving the mankind helpless…? What will happen to our income to run the family, with shelter, clothing, health and education? That is like the Yaksha’s questions to Yudishtira in the epic Mahabharata. There were so many questions and Yaksha was satisfied with all the answers. As for me I liked one question and the answer given by Yudishtira because it very much fits into our present predicament of COVId-19 and gives the correct and RATIONAL answer at a time a large number of ‘we the people’ still pursue the path of belief in God to bring us out of this COVID-19 pandemic.

The question and the answer.

The Yaksha asked:

‘Who is the friend of a traveller?

Who is the friend of a householder?

Who is the friend of a sick man?

Who is the friend of a dying man?’

Yudishtira replied:

‘The friend of a traveller is his road companion.

The friend of a householder is his wife.

The friend of a sick man is his doctor.

The friend of a dying man is charity.’

As I was contemplating on the last two questions —- who is the friend of a sick man? and who is the friend of a dying man ? —- I in my foolishness and being bound to my religious belief-system thought the answers to both questions would be GOD. But Yudishtira’s answers were as if it was a Bertrand Russell or Jean-Paul Sartre of the 20th century Age of Reason answering.

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The TRUTH of these answers are established with proof when we find the sick people with COVID-19 racing to hospitals and not to places of worship for treatment and cure. They are treated and healed by their doctors. Therefore, we can conclude, Yudishtira of Dwapara Yuga is ahead of even Kali Yuga !! 

And the answer to the next question too is ahead of his time when he says that the friend of a dying man is Charity. After all, it is the charity he has given while alive that can be considered ‘his friend’ because his act of charity gives him the immense satisfaction in death.

Having said all this to caution the Senior Citizens, let me conclude with a quotation from Charles Dickens’ novel  “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) which seems to describe our present situation of facing the challenge of the pandemic Coronavirus. The future historians may write about the year 2019-20 in the following manner:

 “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. 

“We had everything before us. We had nothing before us. We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way.”

In essence, our present plight with COVID-19 is like it was at the time Charles Dickens wrote those immortal lines of literature. In fact, he sounded very much prophetic to me. A situation, authorities (governments) and we the people accept for good or for evil. What cannot be cured must be endured. After all, nature’s ways are inscrutable and even mysterious. Like God’s!

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ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Stray thoughts on Senior Citizens in times of COVID-19!”

  1. Strangeworld says:

    The Covid-19, some say is an escapee virus from a research lab in China, has changed the world, as never before. It is not only this sweep of pandemic which is still going that one should be concerned about, but the repeated visitations of versions of mutated Covid-19, that the world should fear of confronting, each year and every year. The vulnerable group has a number of members, not only senior citizens or the elders as they should be referred to, but also the young who are unfortunate to be suffering from immunity-affecting diseases. More than the physical well-being, the behaviour adjustments needed have certainly affected the mental well-being in some way.
    The Covid-19 has certainly altered the a number of models-business, education, work-life balance, human activities etc.. that the world carefully developed and nurtured over the centuries.
    Covid-19 has made the world to accept the number of deaths in tens of thousands as the result of the cause and effect cycle, which in these decades of peace period, after the WWII and Vietnam war, was considered as seriously unacceptable numbers. The countries which tourists visit in very large numbers from China and many other countries, because of their historical artefacts and places of interest, like for example, Italy, France, Britain, Spain and USA, have seen the worst cases of Covid-19 and deaths. The first wave of Chinese visitors, during last Christmas and at the beginning of this year, it is assumed, infected the communities in the above countries. In every one of the above countries, one could see China towns for example, where the settled Chinese population from these town visited their motherland too, and came back as spreaders of the virus.
    In India, the virus spreaders is assumed to be Indian citizens, who have the resources to make trips to above countries. Given the density of population of India, and the general public health conditions prevailing in states, the statistics of cases and deaths due to this virus, seem to be not as they should be.
    The senior citizens as well as all citizens have the right to free healthcare at the point of delivery, and this should be the model that India should adopt, as this virus is bound to revisit in different form every year. Simply boasting that India has done better than any country, when the statistics of cases and deaths provided is not believable is nonsense. Free healthcare for senior citizens and those in need because of their vulnerabilities, and affordable healthcare for others-not insurance -based but the government funded is the way forward; if India has to join the rank of civilised nations.


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