5 Young Indians Share Their Journey Of Beating COVID-19
The year is 2021, and the days of grief and struggle do not seem to end. Day after day and case after case, India continues to grapple with the insanity of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are always asked to look for the light at the end of the tunnel, but a long year and a half later, the light seems bleaker than ever.
Lakhs of cases pile up each day –– we use them to analyse, investigate and report. At the end of each day, they remain at the status of numbers. Sometimes, it takes the effort of looking past them as numbers, and thinking of them as real and suffering individuals –– individuals with family, ambitions and more. The broad lens of digits eases our consumption of news that is heartbreaking in the least.
The pain and struggle endured by each person must not go unheard. And so, we asked those from our audience who have fought off the deadly virus about what effect it truly had on them. The physical symptoms of the disease are not the limit of COVID-19 –– it manages to shatter spirits and hint at long-term grief. Far from something you can simply shake off one morning, COVID-19 consequences are more a war than a battle.
The experiences of our readers range from courageous to heart-wrenching. We are simply mediators narrating their stories of moments of weakness, that as much as strength, lend to their journey of recovery –– physically, mentally and emotionally.
A word about our responses:
- The age group of our respondents ranged from 23-35 years old.
- 100% of our respondents identify as female.
- Our respondents were from Mumbai, Ranchi, Chandigarh, Pune and Delhi.
- None of our respondents chose to remain anonymous.
- For qualitative purposes, the respondents were not forced to choose from just a selection of options and were allowed to give us insight in their own words.
The Second Wave Woes
It was no surprise that COVID-19 harshly resurfaced –– we were warned by top scientists and experts. With the rapid unfolding of the lockdown, things took a sharp turn as our COVID-19 curve steeply moved upwards. Along with that, so did the mass suffering.
Mansi Sharma from Delhi accounts her horrendous experience and shares that the plight of government hospitals is worse than what meets the TV screen. Having witnessed two deaths in one night, after which she transferred to a private hospital, Mansi realised over time the burden our healthcare workers are under –– weighed down and helpless.
She said, “The anger I felt towards the government hospital staff and doctors slowly subsided. Maybe they were so exhausted that they did not know what to do anymore. The situation is so bad. I heard a nurse telling a patient who was screaming for oxygen, that ‘Aunty, nahi jaana tha na bahar fir. Yeh toh ab hoga hi’. But it just makes me wonder how bad it is for doctors and hospital staff that it is turning them insensitive.
She also added, “I’m constantly anxious and wish when this will end. I feel depressed all the time. I hope for better days as I recover not just for me but for everyone who is suffering.”
Samiksha Vaidya was able to aptly summarise: “Just like everyone’s lives, even mine has been on hold.”
Life Changing –– Yay Or Nay?
Experiences like COVID-19 are not momentary –– they create changes and ensure that they are felt for a long time to come. Among the long list of physical repercussions the virus leaves you with, there exist certain emotional and mental ones that seem to be just as tough to deal with. Our respondents candidly let us in on some of them.
Shachi Pathak from Mumbai tells us, “Having COVID myself, made me realize how much a human to human contact really means, how much going out of the house makes a difference in your life and health.”
It is as if we are unable to appreciate the pace and constant existence of people around us until we don’t have it any more, and Vanya Lochan from Ranchi corroborates the same.
She says, “Emotionally, COVID and all those days of isolation actually taught me the importance of people. Jobs, money, career – these are all such little parts of our life.”
She is absolutely spot on when she says, “People made it easy. Love made it easy. The very acknowledgement of that, I hope, changes my life.”
COVID-19 is far from what one expects –– it drains you of more than your energy. When it alters parts of your life, it is easy to realise the importance of things we once took for granted. Almost like a realisation that dawns on you, the disease makes priorities crystal clear.
Race To The Finish Line
Apart from the common response of “I slept!” our respondents also let us in on the small things that kept them going when the virus seemed to be overwhelming enough.
“Looking at the bigger picture is quite scary, thinking about everything as whole and receiving only bad news whether it’s in your family or some one else’s can get extremely overwhelming. So I guess looking at the smaller things like maybe what can I cook today or what can I paint today or what can I read today. Just a day at a time,” says Samiksha Vaidya.
Indeed, it is the small things that give one hope –– what else, if not those moments of utter accomplishment and joy would get you over the line?
Another common aspect noticed here is the selflessness expressed by one’s loved ones. No other support system seems to come close to what a small group of people exhibit.
Samiksha Chaudhary sums it up, “I think ultimately all things fall back to community and support. I was incredibly lucky that I had all the resources required for a recovery, I’m eternally grateful for that.”
(No) Turning Back
Envisioning the future can be a daunting task, especially when the virus continues to rage outdoors, and the thought of getting through tomorrow itself is an accomplishment. Having had COVID, our respondents reflect on how they think their future is going to be different.
“I have become far more open to things, I would like to think. I want to experience every bit of life but more than anything else, I want to connect to people and just love them a lot and support them in every way possible. There’s so much time for everything else in the world,” says Vanya Lochan, and we’re here for it.
Granting time to the important aspects of life rather than fretting over those that may not matter in a year’s time seems like the perfect way to move forward.
Confusion about the near (or even far) future is nothing bizarre –– how else does one react to a pandemic?
Samiksha Vaidya, rather confused herself, reflects on these thoughts, and says, “Sometimes, I envision that things will eventually be better and we’ll have something closer to our lives before, but then with the new normal, it’ll probably never be like that, and in a way I think that is a good thing.”
She leaves us with much to ponder over –– is it a good thing that our lives will never be the same? Is our newfound empathy and courage here to stay, or will it fleet away as the pandemic calms down?
To top it off, she comically adds, “It’ll be in the history books soon enough and we’ll be telling people tales of we all survived it, at least I hope we do survive it.”
COVID-19 has taught us a lot, and our respondents would agree. Forgive yourself, spread some extra love, take rest and maybe even allow yourselves to fail. No overwhelming feeling is invalid, especially now.
Surviving the virus is not just about your body reacting well and recovering –– it is your mind that pushes it to do so, and your utmost courage that backs it up. The support and love from people is always an added bonus.
We hope that these times, however tough they may be, bring you some sort of liberty –– whether that be from fear, disbelief or even lack of compassion. Your COVID fight is now part of your life, and what you take away from it is only up to you.
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