It seemed like an hour ago . . . days since it had all started. It was impossible to believe that tomorrow was going to be a decade since the pandemic of Covid-19. In the winter of 2019, the Corona outbreak in China and what people did was to lock themselves from the rest of the world. People who worked for the betterment of society and died like a soldier but not on the frontline. It was a battleground really where doctors, social workers and police fought day and night for us.
Keshav Mehta, 23 years old man was one of the unfortunate. His Father-Mother were doctors and had died in the service in this Corona pandemic. He was raised by his uncle, who was treated like an orphan.
One day a mail came on his name. It was an appointment letter from a corporate company. He left his uncle’s place and found an apartment to live all alone. Subsequent day was the first day of his job. He was quite nervous for his coming day. In the lunch break, he talked to his colleagues and was very happy. He got some friends; finally, real friends, not some made-up friends that were his imagination.
Due to the ill behaviour of his uncle, he had never tried to express his feelings to anyone. As the day passed by, his loneliness devoured him. He asked his friends to spend some time with him at his apartment. In the evening some of them showed up, the door knocked, he opened the door and asked them to sit. After the Corona Pandemic, people changed. People who worked under the same roof, as a single unit were different outside. Till this date, Keshav was unaware of how people had transformed in the past couple of years.
“How was your day?” Keshav asked Abhinav, who was sitting next to him.
“None of your business!!” Abhinav replied silently.
“I think you must have a rough day,” Keshav replied anxiously. Listening to these words of Keshav, Abhinav left the room.
After some time, he was all alone. This happens with him most of the time. In his schooldays, he had many friends. He used to enjoy them, as his mom and dad were busy in the hospital. During the pandemic, he was alone. His parents had visited him in 14 days, but nothing was the same before. After seeing the severe condition in hospital, being exerted and how people treat them as a Corona Carrier had traumatized them. This affects Keshav. The school was closed, and he had no one to talk to. Initially, neighbours used to come by and look after him. However, now neighbours avoid visiting Mehta’s house. They were afraid of getting infected by COVID. Situations started to become more critical. There were days when Keshav was helpless. A week later, after the last visit of his mom, news came. His parents were tested for COVID, and the results were positive. He was asked to go with his uncle until they recovered. But they never did.
After having dinner and facing such unexpected behaviour, He went to his balcony. Standing there, he felt a Soothing breeze seeping through his body. Before the virus, the city never stopped moving; cars, people, busses, trains. The town was always quieter at night though, perhaps that’s the reason why he prefers the night time. Sometimes in the dark he can still hear the cars and imagine a street so busy he can weave between the people. He sees through the town and starts to think about his parents. Conditions of doctors, nurses, police and Safai Vala Bhaiya were never right. During the pandemic, They were treated as Corona warriors. However, Now they are just mere humans who want to get his/her own house, give their child the best education and wait for the salary. Due to sizable technical advancement, their work gets automated. By this, they became jobless, and no one cares about them.
Every day was the same for Keshav. He followed the same routine and avoided Abhinav and others for the next few days. Times passed by, he worked hard, and he got a promotion. After living alone for a year, Keshav called his uncle and asked him to visit him as Keshav was unwell. But, his uncle never showed up. He was so tired that he had fallen asleep on the sofa, thinking of an old memory.
It was when he had started to learn to swim. His father tossed him into the Ghat. The water was cold and so quiet, he remembers the blurred image of his father. He flapped his hands and legs to reach to the surface. He tried harder and harder, his arms became numb, and the last thing he remembered was a hand reaching out to him. After a few minutes later, Keshav woke up. He shivered, then he sat near the stairs of the Ghat.
“Why did you toss me in the first place? What if I drowned” Keshav asked shiveringly. Father joined him and sat next to him.
“How did you feel when you hit the surface?” Father addressed Keshav while covering Keshav with a towel.
“It was cold, I thought I won’t make it.”, Keshav replied.
“So why did you give up?” Father responded.
“I will never make it. That’s why”, Keshav replied silently.
“Remember this, When you don’t have anyone, and you feel like the whole world comes down to you. You are alone and want someone’s help. You must fight the situation. Because I won’t be there, the whole time.”, Father comforted.
“hahaha . . . I know you will be there. . .”, Keshav replied, and Both smiled at each other. The voice faded, and He snapped out of the memory.
He only remembers fragments of this memory. Tired from the day’s work and beaten by emotions was his existence now. He started to become weak, his mental state made him agitated. His physical and psychological fatigue pushed him to his break-point. He left his job, ina few weeks he used up all of his savings. Every day he tries to remember his golden memories, but every memory ends with a question, “Why you guys have to die, why MOM! Why, DAD!???”. Yet, no one was there to help him out.
Keshav packed his bags and left for the railway station. He had not planned anything. He just needed a break, he bought a ticket for his hometown. His train was scheduled for 3:00A.M.
By midnight the station was vacant. He can hear the honk of distant trains. He slept on the bench. Remembering his mom and dad. After a long silence, he listened to a long honk. He woke up, and what he saw could not be described. He was in his old room. It all was just a dream. His father had come from his shift. He was sitting on a chair and reading a newspaper. Keshav ran to him and hugged him. His eyes were wet. When his father holds Keshav with his arms boy started crying the words “I know you will be there. . . I know you will be there. . .” and the voice fades away.
“Mental Disorder is an illness, It’s not a choice! ! !”
“Social Workers die because they take care of you, But why do ordinary people die? because of their negligence! ! !”
STAY HOME STAY SAFE
This story was first published on INYF(inyf.in) .