During this challenging time, so many essential workers are at the front line for our safety: the health care workers, the drivers, the rubbish collectors, the food deliverymen, the soldier, and so on. Many of them are low-level salary individuals.
While people are rushing to stock up with food and water, these heroes are working tirelessly so we can have some sort of normality. They survive on adrenaline, and when they have some rest, they feel like most of us: fear, anxiety, depression, and sadness. They worry about their children, spouses, and parents just like us.
We all know this pandemic will pass, but there will be a trail of consequences. Many say life will never be the way we knew it. We are learning to live in isolation; hardly going shopping and when we go, it is for the essentials; wearing masks and gloves have become a necessity; bank cards instead of cash; and then, the abrupt change to online education – metaphorically, teachers and students are thrown in the water and told to swim. The list of changes is endless.
In this pandemic, the focus of attention is to save lives. However, there is a general understanding that the situation puts heavy pressure on mental health – not only on the senior; young people are showing signs of depression. Insurances do not cover mental health problems, and we will have individuals with serious after-effects.
The other day, I heard the voice of a young man singing his heart out. It was painful to the ears, then; I looked up and saw him standing by the window of a room in a hotel. Probably, he was one of those put in quarantine. Loneliness is heartbreaking.
With the lockdown, it seems that the perception of time is one of the first victims. Weekdays and weekends look the same. There is this feeling of senselessness for those stuck at home. Viewing old photographs, reconnecting with lost friends are some of the pastimes. While most of us are in this period of futility, health care workers and security forces are spending long hours in hospitals filled with coronavirus patients or patrolling the streets – for our own good. The truth is, the era of narcissism and individualism suffered a halt.
It feels as we are part of a bizarre movie. In the beginning, the perception was 'this cannot be happening' – now, everything seems to be settling down. Positive messages of encouragement pop continuously on our radio stations, in our WhatsApp and, what a blessing to video call our families - to see our daughters and sons, our parents, and grandchildren. Even though there is a certain sadness in telling the family how much we love them just in case we turn to be another number in the death tally – it is a mind-boggling experience.
I am not an expert to consider either we are facing a biological weapon testing, or if animals are responsible for this pandemic, or if it fits within a particular conspiracy theory. Hard to even speculate how these all started. However, a few points are valid: transparency in communication is vital, particularly during emergencies; it is important to consider the social fabric of society to address everyone; tensions and dilemmas happen during real-time communication – just keep focused; health and disaster crises should not be politicised – none will benefit!
Something good spring out from challenging events. The donations to contribute to medical research, staff reinforcement along with medical supplies are just some of the kindness we see. It is also inspiring volunteers coming up to help in whatever way they can. Solidarity has returned to our lips and attitudes. The heroes of this pandemic situation deserve the deepest of our gratitude and love – and thanks to their families.