COVID-19: A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL COME TO LIFE
Empty roads. Vehicles that can be counted on our fingers. A handful of humans on streets in masks with a constant fear of contracting the disease. Shops with shutters down. Healthcare personnel in protective equipment. People stranded away from homes. People dying. Doctors dying. And the whole world in a standstill, as if the earth has been plunged into limbo.
Does this ring a bell? If you are an avid reader or a fan of sci-fi movies, this must be giving you a sense of déjà vu, right? The present scenario seems as if a dystopian novel or movie has come to life! You are seeing EXACTLY what you read and relished as fiction! And thanks to whom? A single organism which cannot be seen under a regular microscope, let alone the naked eye!
This reminds me of an incident that happened in my second year of medical school, which seems humorous in the present situation. A few weeks before our final exams, the teacher was instructing us and ended up giving us a list of important viruses. A student stood up and raised a question, “Ma’am, what about the corona virus?” To which the teacher replied, “No, it’s not all that important. You can choose to skip it.” Wow. Who knew that very not-so-important virus would claim people in lakhs today?!
The virus is rearing its ugly head and doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. With thousands of people getting infected with each passing day in many countries, and some countries choosing to lift their lockdowns for fear of the plummeting economy, here comes the obvious question: What is life going to be like, moving forward? We couldn’t rid this world of the virus. So, how is life going to be WITH the monster called COVID-19 looming in the background?
Well, one thing’s for sure, it definitely is NOT going to be easy, and there is a constant fear of contracting the virus, of infecting your near and dear ones if you do, and there is a going to be a huge burden on the medical fraternity.
Social distancing is going to become a common sight. Masks will be the new makeup. You may head out of the house without a coat of foundation, but not without a mask. With a disease that shows absolutely no symptoms in the initial stages but is still extremely virulent, you never know when or how you catch the disease. And THAT fear is going to make us stay on edge all the time.
One very important consequence of the pandemic is the tremendous amount of burden on the medical fraternity: doctors, nurses, social healthcare workers and service staff, all of whom are at an elevated risk of catching the disease. Let us all take a moment here to express gratitude to the thousands of medical personnel who are slogging day in and day out to treat the infected and will continue to do so as the virus just doesn’t want to calm down.
What is one of the most vital aspects of a person’s life? Family. Do we realize how these medical personnel are quarantining themselves from their loved ones to help those in need, for fear of spreading the disease? That is the best example of a sacrifice right there.
On a positive note, there will be a surge in personal and public hygiene practices. What was taken for granted for so long will be given the justice it deserves. Stores are running low on hand soaps and sanitizers with increased awareness of personal hygiene among people and neighborhoods are magically seeming cleaner and prettier! Well, Mother Nature always gets her way in the end, doesn’t she? *wink*
Haven’t we all heard of the saying, “Home is the first school?” Well, home is THE school now. And the workplace, even. With educational institutions and offices not opening anytime soon, technology will continue its rule. Virtual classes and meetings are going to become the new bare necessity. Some would even say , technology is finally being a boon and not a bane.
Last, but DEFINITELY, not the least, is the impact on mental health. With more emphasis on mental health issues in the current generation, it is important to note how this whole situation can affect one’s mental health adversely. The lockdown may have seemed comforting at first, but after a while, the dormancy starts taking an ugly turn. As someone whose mental health has been severely affected by the situation, I can safely say that experience is indeed the best teacher (being an extrovert stuck at home is a trip to hell, trust me). The state of inactivity can lead to loss of motivation, unable to stay organized or focused, increased irritability, anxiety attacks, to name a few. Hence, it becomes extremely important to keep tabs on our closed ones, friends or family, and help them stay in their element and keep themselves motivated. If you are someone whose mental health has been affected by the pandemic and its consequences, please make it a point to talk about it with your loved ones! Take my word on it, talking helps!
Let me end this on a hilarious note. As a medical student, I have cribbed and have heard my peers crib about the lack of holidays in this course. Most of us were craving for a break. If you are a medico, you can relate to this as well. Well, our wish was most certainly granted, but in heaps! Well, it’s true, be careful what you wish for!
-Nachiketa S R