“Namaskar! The new year brings a fresh ray of hope in the form of COVID-19 vaccine…”
This is a message we’ve been hearing for months but the country now seems to be losing hope amidst the second wave of COVID-19.
“You have been playing that one irritating message on the phone whenever one makes a call, for we do not know how long, that you [people] should have the vaccination when you [the Centre] don’t have enough vaccine,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said in the Delhi High Court.
It is a situation that the people of this country never saw coming. Like the message says, we had hoped for COVID to be a word of the past when vaccines arrived. Vaccines were supposed to be our only saving grace but slots to get yourself vaccinated are as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack.
Graphic designer Debjyoti Saha’s latest animation video dwells upon the plight as it showcases those 30 seconds that the caller tune plays. The video very accurately depicts situations that many Indians have found themselves in. A patient in critical condition, gasping for breath while their loved one is desperately trying to help them, hospitals running out of beds, physician burnout, and vaccine unavailability — all this while, the caller tune plays in the background, giving the viewer goosebumps. These instances hit too close to home for many of us.
Says Debjyoti about the film, “It’s been a little over a month that our screens have been filled with extremely distressing news about the horror on the streets. For weeks, we have been seeing, receiving, and forwarding SOS calls, news reports, live videos of humans in pain and distress. Images of bodies piling up in crematoriums and our rivers, long queues outside hospitals across the country with hardly any beds left to offer, personal vehicles functioning as makeshift ambulances with patients gasping for breath. Vaccines slots as difficult to find as a needle in a haystack. And that’s just for the privileged few. Everyone knows someone who lost their dear ones to this raging pandemic. The scenario has, perhaps, become so mind-numbing that we have started accepting the horror of it all as a part of life.
At this point, it is terribly ironic and sometimes, infuriating when you call someone to hear a 30 second long, cold and hollow automated message that doesn’t really add up to what you are seeing in front of you. Humanity can’t forgive and forget this national tragedy. Indeed, the pandemic has just revealed a broken system. No suppressed official numbers could add up to the pain of losing a loved one. Hold them accountable. Humanity can’t unsee the horror, on the streets...”
Debjyoti Saha’s 2D animation is short but the impact it has had on its viewers is immense. It reminds us of the trauma our loved ones have faced during the pandemic in the last fourteen months.
The year has been a nightmare even for those who have been blessed enough to be safe. Simply hearing the horrific stories about the loss, anguish, and suffering this microscopic virus has brought upon millions of people all around the world, affects one deeply.
The irony of the ‘irritating’ vaccine caller tune is something that keeps playing as one suffers.
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