Stand up comic-writer Prashasti Singh took to Instagram on Sunday, 18 April, to speak in details about the hospitalisation of her mother, who tested positive for coronavirus. Singh also gave a horrific account of India's collapsing health infrastructure in the face of rising COVID-19 cases.
Singh, who rose to fame with Amazon Prime Video's Comicstaan, began by writing that cabs in Lucknow were being requested to carry dead bodies to the crematorium.
“Mother tested positive last weekend and started worrying about her life insurance nominations. I took a flight to Lucknow the next morning. On my way home the Uber driver tells me he has been getting too many requests to take dead bodies in the car. ‘Laash Ke Vaaste wali gaadi ka bahut shortage hai, madam’. Everyone is sick, too many are dying,” read her note.
Prashasti Singh added that a doctor told them to 'pull all strings' in order to get a bed at the hospital. "Pulled all strings. Found space in one hospital. Reached and realized can’t leave her there alone. Hospital is severely under-equipped to handle so many patients. No one can survive this system without a member of their family volunteering to embrace Covid with them".
Despite getting a hospital bed, the comedian had to run around for a day in search of an oxygen cylinder. “A boy finally walked up to me and said, ‘Didi phone milaane se kya hoga.. ward boys ko sabko 100-50 rupiya pakdaiye aur cylinder aae to betaal jaise uspe latak jaiye’. Great advice. Next 18 hours fairly smooth. Made friends with the offloading guy, the trolley guy, the pipe fixing guy. Some accepted small money, many refused. They are good people, just stretched way beyond capacity.”
Prashasti continued by writing that by Friday the oxygen shortage became more severe. “Shortage becomes more severe by Friday night. These new friends couldn’t help. You have to continuously run around, shout, plead and fight the entire night to ensure oxygen supply for your patient. Between arguments I wonder if someone needs oxygen more critically than we do, and then quickly snap back. You are responsible for one life right now. Can’t afford to care about more;” Prashasti wrote that Saturday morning saw her and several other family members of patients running to get hold of oxygen cylinders as if it was a race.
“Saturday morning, the system has broken down completely. Cylinders arrive, people run and get hold of whatever they can and drag it to their wards. The first time it happened I almost grabbed one but couldn’t drag the weight. Second time my bribe friend took pity and helped me drag.”
She concluded by writing that her mother is improving, but the trauma experienced at the hospital will continue to haunt them for days.
"Mother seems to be recovering slowly. Everyday I remind myself I can’t complain, hospital bed in these times is a luxury. Think about what’s happening with others. And then I start thinking about others, and then I have to stop myself. Before this week, I had seen a total of 2 dead bodies in my life. I must have seen at least 7 in the last 3 days. No one is processing anything. We are too exhausted trying to keep our people alive. The night is going to be long. I have to stay up and arrange one more cylinder. Walked past an old lady trying to figure out how to get oxygen for her husband. How will she grab and run? She will figure something out maybe. Someone in the ward next to me is howling. I am trying to distract myself with Instagram,” she concluded.
India on Sunday reported 2,61,500 new COVID-19 cases and 1,501 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to data from the Union Health Ministry.