Working through a Pandemic- A First Person Perspective

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The title “Life during Lockdown ne’ Quarantine” was given me as part of a blog prompt of the Chennai bloggers club where various members have written about their lives during the compulsory lockdown for the past few months to prevent corona virus transmission. I really don’t know if I am qualified to write on the same topic as my situation is very different and hence I prefer to go with a title reflecting reality. I was never in lockdown but was in quarantine for a few days initially; as I have been working continuously ever since the first reports of the virus came in -every alternate week on-duty with a week off as self-quarantine for the first month (March) aka the  initial denial phase when corona was supposed to go away if our eyes were closed tightly. This on/off weekly concession was gradually reduced to five days on/off, three days on/off etc in the subsequent months as it was decided by the powers that be that the hospital’s need all hands on deck and they were willing to risk working the doctors continuously and may the strongest healthcare worker survive in this gladiatorial contest for the watching/voting public’s edification (doctors were never a significant vote bank for our politicians).

As such I don’t have any big lockdown stories to share about how lonely I felt at home (for I was travelling the empty roads daily) or how desperate I was to dial up former girlfriends and ask them if they were still alive and available(Link to that Blogpost of Jo’s here). I meanwhile am being asked at every checkpoint by our local version of the Minneapolis cops to show that my face on my government issued official id card with a photo taken eight years ago matches my current mask wearing countenance of today to authenticate that I am indeed travelling for work even as my vehicle is the only one on the road at such an early morning or late at night. So, I am slightly jealous that a lot of people are doing work from home and getting by with spending time at work in a “homely atmosphere” while others are enjoying the true benefits of the lockdown by staying at home and doing stuff like having a second honeymoon. Unfortunately, being classified as essential services I don’t have the luxury of doing either duty or pleasure at home

For me it has been work from office all this time and being classified as essential service there has been no long period of relaxation at home, it has all been business as usual. Scratch that. It has been far from business as usual. The constant fight for protective gear, for safe working conditions, for getting paid for that work instead of being forced to contribute against my will to the pm and cm cares fund from my already meagre salary, to, hold your breath in irony, to fight against coronavirus, the same corona virus I am already fighting against was the height of callousness on the part of the government. So when there are empty gestures like banging pots or throwing flowers from helicopters I am tempted to say take these gestures and shove it up your arse and pay me my full salary for working without a break all this while and don’t “voluntarily” deduct my salary for your idiotic schemes.

Or spend a whole working day – eight hours enclosed inside a thick thermo-plastic sheet covering head to foot with no air ingress anywhere, rivulets of sweat flowing down the back so that the clean scrubs you wore underneath are already soaked wet in a half hours’ time and wearing an N-95 mask, tied tightly on to prevent the smallest leakage to unfiltered air through any part of the nose or mouth or chin region, with the tight elastic backing straps pulling your ears forward till you realize that damn even ears can get sore, the strong and rough aluminium framework of the front working end compressing your nostrils, pinching them so hard you are left drooling through your nostrils and tasting your snot for the first time since kindergarten (believe me not a pleasant experience) and either left to suffocate with snot running down your nostrils or to learn an entirely new skill- how to breathe through your mouth and that too breathing through those multiple filtered layers of the n-95 leaving you with less than half the oxygen you inhaled at first finally reaching your lung leaving you permanently oxygen craving and resisting hyperventilation(and panicked breathing) through sheer willpower and to wear a full face shield over top of all this with one more tight elastic strap pinching the forehead tightly and leaving you with hazy vision if the plastic external which has just been wiped with surgical spirit between patients has left over smudges and through all these trying to communicate with the patients speaking nasally like Darth Vader from the Star wars franchise. Do this first; do all these first and then come and tell me how as responsible citizens of the country we should all be willing to sacrifice for the country and if that includes voluntary donations to some politicians care fund we should be ready to do it.  

Now that the rant has been put out of the way let’s get back to the actual blogpost. To sum up- my life during lockdown sucks majorly. Although there is the awareness that I am living through interesting times (having complained a lot previously about how my boring my life was), this constant war against known and unknown enemies (the unknow being the virus) is a serious drag on both my physical and mental health and well-being. To everyone who asks so how are you? the only honest answer I can give is, I am surviving-on a day to day basis, no long-term plans yet. If and when we get through this corona virus thing all I want to do is take a long vacation in some Caribbean beach – Bahamas or Jamaica, just lie on the sand with a raspberry breezer in hand and enjoy the solitude of the not-needed/useless human being, the non-essential worker so to say, whose absence no one will miss. Till then all I need is a cup of hot strong filter coffee every two hours, oh wait, once I have dorned this sterile suit I cannot remove it for any reason without breaking sterilization protocol; so hold that coffee till the end of my shift. And while at that, hold everything else too, for PPE’s are scarce resources strictly rationed and cant be changed/wasted again and again if someone has a weak bladder and wants to go so often. Bladder control, ladies and gentlemen, mind over matter so to say is my true gain this lockdown period.

Alien Invasion

1.-The Invasion

The Red Martians had been preparing for some time for final launch. Their technology level was at using fission rockets which meant a one-way trip mostly, unless they could find fissionable materials on the invaded planet, enough to power them back to their home planet if they so desired. But that was a long way away in the future. The invasion fleet would have to subjugate the native populations, eradicate the dominant species on the planet and then with or without using collaborators find out and mine sufficient fissionable materials to enable the fleet to go back and bring the second wave. For this was just the first wave, half the population of mars, the strongest most warlike population to be sure and the most virile to go and not only colonize the blue planet quickly but to multiply in its slightly heavier oxygen atmosphere that no other neighbouring planetary species in the solar system would dare to invade the third planet once the red Martians had obtained a solid foothold on it. The red Martians had prepared long and carefully for this invasion, it had taken decades of their life ever since the stupid earthlings had started broadcasting into space that their planet was capable of supporting life. The Martians couldn’t believe it at first. Was this all a ruse? If so for what purpose? Were the earthlings so starved of nutrition that they were willing to attract other planetary species to their home world to feed on them? None of it made sense. Even their best scientific minds couldn’t understand why the earthlings were broadcasting so many signals into space. It was unprecedented in the Martians millennium of existence and induced acute anxiety in their leaders. Ever since the dawn of life in the nine planet solar system, none of the populated planets, neither Venus, nor Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus or Neptune had ever broadcast into space that “Hey, here are life giving planets and we have evolved life here, you are welcome to come here and take it”. None, but the stupid earthlings had done so. Signalled to the entire universe that there were life supporting planets in the 9-planet solar system capable of providing organic nutrients. It was either stupidity of the highest order or sheer recklessness on the part of the blue planetary species to endanger life in the entire known solar system. Every other species had hunkered down into the deep dark soil of its planet projecting a complete lack of life to every explorer and invader (mostly the same thing), once it was capable of space flight and had communicated with the nearest planetary lifeforms and had learned the truth of the universe. That the universe was a whole lot of scary species always looking for new planets to colonize and species to devour for their organic contents was a universal truth known to every species on every planet on every star and galaxy. Everyone realized this truth to be self-evident once they started lifting off from their planet’s gravity well. Except the earthlings. They were a whole lot of stupid apparently. Not only had they continued to broadcast their location to the wide universe but also had sent probes outside the limits of the solar system with information leading straight back to the nine planets. This was a genocidal war crime on a solar system level and the blue planet earthlings had to be punished for it and stopped before they did further damage to the rest of the species. The Jovian’s and Neptunian’s had proposed an asteroid strike to obliterate the third planet and silence those voices seeking to expose them all. But the red Martians had proposed an alternate- a planetary invasion to eradicate the loathsome bipedal species which was even now launching chemical rockets into deep space with long plume signatures capable of being traced back to source. It not only helped that they were the nearest planet to the earth, but also capable of surviving in the open on the slightly more oxygen rich atmosphere of earth, which the Venusians can never do and finally to add icing to the cake the Martians could use their feeding appendages directly on the earth species which conveniently carried a nutrient fluid in their bodies, a red fluid which could be fed on and absorbed directly by the Martians for their organic nutrients. The Martians had been taking off a few earth species for decades and studying them for absorption of their nutrient fluids and had found that the earthlings were not only compatible with the Martian diet but also provided a rich source of all the other minerals needed along with the organics. Hence the fleet was got ready to invade the earth and save the solar system by silencing once and for all those pestilent squealers threatening all nine planetary species.

2– The Aftermath

When the first Martian saucers landed it was near to the great urban settlements intentionally. The Martians had planned and prepared for the initial resistance to be stiff, even with the primitive kinetic weapons of the earthling’s and the Martian ground assault tripods had their armour specially strengthened to deflect kinetic weapons. The saucers landed and disgorged the tripods on a fine sunny day and the Martians rambled into the vast urban conglomerations the native earthlings called cities. They were prepared to encounter shock and distress and panic from the native population as even the few earthlings they had encountered previously on scouting trips had panicked at the sign of the Martians and had died on the spot with stoppage of their hearts suddenly.  But strange to say this time there was no panic, no shock, no fleeing groups of bipeds. The earthlings had all seemed to be hunkered down in their dwellings already as if they had advance intelligence of the Martian invasion. Nothing made sense to the Martians as their tripods roamed around the empty streets of the earthlings. The Martian commander then made the courageous decision to go into the dwellings of these creatures and hunt them out from wherever they were hiding. The order was transmitted and the Martian invasion force exited the safety of their assault vehicles and landers for the first time on the blue planet. They started a cordon search and sector by sector they went inside the earthling’s dwellings where to their great surprise they found the earthlings hunkered down individually. They were dragged out, assembled and devoured as when the Martians needed organic nutrition. After two days of frenzied feeding on the earthling liquids, none of the soldiers reported any adverse reaction, so the main body of the invasion force, the civilians and administrators were disembarked from the colony ships and mass feeding on the earthlings started. It was on the third day that the disease began. It started with a fluid flow in the Martians appendages which believe me, when you have eight of them is a real danger to health. This was followed by sense of breathlessness despite the rich oxygen laden atmosphere of earth which was better than mars by many degrees. The ancient and wisest advisors started toppling first unable to breathe and pretty soon the rest of the invasion force was on its back merely struggling to take a single breath. Even the use of respirators inside the Martian landers offered no respite as they seem to have been contaminated too. The Martians suspected an unknown earth disease and decided to try out their experimental translator technology. One of the captured bipeds was brought in and shown the dying Martians and asked why? He answered, as translated as best as the machine could, in a single word-corona. The Martian commanders, those still left alive, decided to withdraw from the planet and ordered their people back on the saucers but sadly none survived the journey back and the mystery of the great Martian invasion to earth remained a warning sign to all the rest of the nine planets. Thereafter the third planet, the blue planet was designated a dangerous planet, a quarantined zone capable of killing any life which landed there. What the earthlings did or how they survived these diseases became the stuff of legends on other planets and taught to the younglings. Many of their younger warriors on Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune were challenged – if you want to show you are a great warrior visit the third planet earth and take a breath there. But sadly, none had the courage to do so and earth was left alone forever by the entire universe.

-The end –

Dedicated to H.G.Wells and his iconic science fiction thriller – War of the Worlds.




These are interesting times..wait..that might be a bit of an understatement, but you know me, I am the master of the stiff upper lip and the take it on the chin brigade. Anyway, what’s interesting about times like these is the absolute certainty amongst certain segments of the population that death is going to come for them pretty soon. Well for people like me who have always walked under the shadows in the valley of death (well I love that phrase and was looking for a place to use it for ages), well for people like me, death was always on the horizon and never a distant possibility and precisely for that reason I had made my peace with it a long time ago. It was only the manner of my death which used to puzzle me not the certainty of it. Well, the corona virus scare seems to have offered a clear indicator of the way the wind is blowing. Death by pandemic- it has a majestic ring to it doesn’t it?  A bit sinister but still majestic. You wouldn’t want to die a humdrum death, would you? You want to die gloriously? Die fighting that evil bastard of a virus particle, that scourge of our times, the black plague of the 2020’s, the Sauron of China called Sars-covid (Wuhan = Mordor, getit?). To go up against all that is evil, to fight one glorious last battle for all humanity and then to die cheerfully, that’s what defines a man, doesn’t it? To stand up to be counted when its all death and gloom and the orc armies are beating at our doors. So, blow the bugle comrades and let’s go out to face the evil that is threatening to erase all humanity from the world. If we fall here, we fall for the glory of all humans, to preserve our way of life and our independence, even if we end up as a piece of statistic about the millions who died. Even if our light is extinguished here and now, the light of all humanity shall burn bright and be preserved for the future ages. March on, with or without us.