This article has been authored by a member of The Quint. Our membership programme allows those who are not full-time journalists or our regular contributors to get published on The Quint under our exclusive ‘Member’s Opinion’ section, along with many other benefits. Our membership is open and available to any reader of The Quint. Become a member today and send us your articles on firstname.lastname@example.org.
My maternal grandmother died of sepsis last week.
Hailing from a family of nationally renowned Unani practitioners at Allahabad (all of them no more), she belonged to the fourth generation in the family tree. A reservoir of happiness, humbleness and generosity, brimming with joy at any point in time, with an unparalleled love for humans and humanity in general, I’ve always seen her living life with grandeur with her husband earlier, a nationwide respected Unani Physician and after his death in 2000, her sons.
Her eldest son, also a renowned Unani Physician passed away two years back. He was the last samurai of this clan spanning five eventful generations spreading over 153 years of remarkable service to the nation.
While in her final moments, a few hours before her imminent death, we frantically tried getting a cardiologist. The hospital she was admitted to in Allahabad was a rather small one at that and had her admitted only on the basis of its owner’s old relations with our family. Understandably then, the only doctor available there was just a mere physician with three nurses. No other hospital agreed to admit her unless she was a COVID patient, which she, in fact, wasn’t and none agreed to attend to her even after making numerous calls and endless requests. She eventually passed away.
At the graveyard, while giving some final touches to her now new abode with my uncles where she shall rest till eternity, trying exceptionally hard to maintain my composure, I couldn’t help but wonder. Would she still be alive had we got a better hospital or a better doctor to administer her? I continuously questioned myself during the entire process of her burial and subsequent prayers. Honestly, I still don’t have an answer to that.
‘Times Like These Force You to Think’
Today, more than a week since her passing, as I write this, keeping the constant flashes of her smiling face in front of my eyes as personal grief, I’ve begun to comprehend this more as a wholesome reality of our times rather than just a singular moment of sorrow. No, I don’t intend to hold anyone responsible for my suffering but I do very well intend to outline the values we have collectively been brought up on. Or have developed in the process of our ‘multi-faceted advancements and supposed growth’. I mean, have we really grown in absolute terms or become more rotten to the core of our collective existence?
The helplessness and the vulnerability I experienced while dealing with this bereavement has been overwhelming, to say the least. It is experiences like these which make you realise who you really are and how strong your foundation –emotionally, physically and resourcefully – is, which otherwise you carelessly but flagrantly boast of. It is instances of such a disconcerting dilemma that make you acknowledge your weakness when you’re up against a situation tormented by humans first and then a nation of unenlightened political dimwits.
It is times like these which force you to think of what those who are not privileged enough, those who are migrants, those who are riot victims, those who’ve been out of the jobs for months now, would have been going through in similar situations where not only do they lack resources and financial stability but even attention and protection by the state with no means of their livelihood at that? No one’s up for them. A helping hand is nowhere to be seen.
The Erosion of Cultural, Religious and Professional Ethics
There’s no comforting reassurance for them either. Even if there is one by the state, it (and history bears mute testimony to this) has eventually turned out to be utter farce leaving the unfortunates swinging in the middle to die. And at the expense of who or what? coronavirus? Congress? Rahul Gandhi? or better still, Nehru? If you anyhow find yourself blaming any or all of them for such sufferings in the times of this pandemic, I’d, with the highest possible respect and concern for your ignorant self, ask you to stay in your ideological and religious cocoon until one day, God forbid, you land up in a similar helpless position to learn your life’s true lesson.
We haven’t achieved this erosion of culture, religious and professional ethics, the compromise of highly boasted values and morality, yes the same ‘sanskaar and sanskriti’ in one day. It has been in the making for long where the political and religious megalomania robbed us of our humanity and conscience.
It gradually but vehemently transposed our focus and attention from the core issues concerning the life and well-being of our citizens, the growth of our nation, to an issue such as a film actor’s suicide contributing much to the media’s orgasmic TRP and the nation's captured imagination since months now.
In our magnificent nation
- Where literally thousands are dying daily of coronavirus, we continue to believe that “we’re faring much better than many countries.”
- Where medical facilities and resources have unquestionably crashed, but PM-CARES!
- Where statistics of significant parameters for national growth are the worst hit and unimaginably in the negative amongst almost all the major and small economies of the world, we’re yet to witness the profound effects of the mighty Rs 20 lakh crore ‘stimulus package’ cum loan mela announced months back.
- Where female infants as young as 3 months and elderly women as old as 90 years, are getting raped every 15 minutes in some part of the country, an entire nation seems to have forgotten to question the supposed protectors. No one seems perturbed. No one raises eyebrows. Just a few feeble voices here and there and that’s about it.
- Where migrants, poor and underprivileged still continue to perish on the roads, fields and even in their villages due to the ill-planned lockdown, yet it is no more reported in any section of the media. No more a TRP raising story actually.
- Where an enemy state forcefully seizes our territory, various kilometers within our perception of the geographical boundary, our regime’s denial rhetoric seems to suit its degrading politics. While our soldiers continue to die of regular transgressions on each side of our borders, ‘Kadi ninda’ and App bans are all we have to be content with.
- Where GDP and economic activities are in absolute shambles, yet “we’re on the road to an Atmanirbhar Bharat.” How will we get there but? Ah, tune in to the next “Mann ki Baat” for further updates on that.
- Where people are committing suicides owing to crores of job losses and business shutdowns, we’re hooked onto Kangana Ranaut’s “explosive” Bollywood drug cartel and nepotistic revelations along with Rhea Chakraborty’s inhumane media trial in the light of her boyfriend actor’s suicide. Ironically (and embarrassingly enough), the deceased actor would have himself been behind the bars along with Rhea for consuming marijuana, were he to be alive today. Now let that sink in.
- Where the price of dissent has turned out to be charged like sedition and subsequent imprisonment, the instances in which fingers have been raised towards judiciary for being complicit in compromising our Constitution have only grown.
You see, the nature of general discourse amongst us, the citizenry of our magnificent country, have stooped down to such a disturbing level where all we are witnessing and are actually discussing are the long beard of our leader, his picturesque simplicity of feeding a peacock, his infinitely ridiculous 'Mann ki Baat', the baseless Atmanirbharta, senselessly obnoxious rants of the finance minister, the divisive policies of our very own “Chanakya of modern times”, the fervour of right-wing radicalisation, the vilification of a woman by a rapacious media, the Islamisation of Bollywood, the previous birth of PM Modi and what not. I mean, from where do we get the audacity, the nerve, in such a light, to not only talk but boast about how well the country is being managed during this ‘Act of God’ and how we’re bouncing back impressively when the entire nation is on the periphery of cultural, economic and religious breakdown?
If I or my family, belonging to the privileged class, having resources to embark upon, contacts to utilise, money to spend and make all of them cater to my/my family’s luxury and not just necessities couldn’t avail one doctor, ONE DOCTOR, to attend to a dying family member, I shudder to think of the times we’re approaching ahead.
I grieve profusely on my grandmother’s death, more on my nation’s fall.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)