Updated: Aug 28, 2020
| This is the 534th story of Our Life Logs |
We assume ownership of the morning light
As if we were the very sculptor
of the dew and the dawn.
We are no more mighty
No more divine
No more in control than
leaves in the wind.
I was born in the beautiful city of Ajmer, Rajasthan, in India. After getting my education in Ajmer, I moved to Mumbai and then to the capital city, Delhi. A man in my 30s, I’ve always kept in physical shape through running and cycling. I would not call myself a fitness freak, but I like to exercise and when it came to my health, I was never very worried. In fact, I have run several half-marathons, including the highly coveted Mumbai Marathon!
When word of the COVID-19 pandemic was spreading throughout the country, I had little concern about catching it. I’d always been a mentally and physically strong person. I didn’t think some virus could touch me.
Even still, I took the proper precautions that my wife Aakansha asked of me. To give my wife peace of mind, I wore a mask while commuting, maintained social distancing at work, and washed my hands at regular intervals. As people all around us began working from home instead of going to the office, my wife insisted I do the same. But as a banker, I was considered essential and could not even if I wanted to. Besides, I figured I would be fine given I had no medical history that would put me in danger. I assured her that her wonderful home-cooked food would help keep the virus away and that she shouldn’t worry so much. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and I felt it was foolish to stay home fearing something I couldn’t see.
Although I was taking precautions, I couldn’t shake the feeling that people were just being paranoid, and that life should continue as normal. I figured that whatever must happen will happen and there is little anyone can do about it. Why worry about the inevitable?
On June 17, 2020, the inevitable happened to me.
It was a normal day. I went to work as usual. But as I left work to head home, I felt a strange discomfort. I took my temperature when I reached home and discovered I had a mild fever around 99.5F. That was all. No other symptoms or problems. Still, for the first time since this all began, I worried.
I did not know for sure if I had the virus, but I didn’t want to risk infecting my wife or son, so I distanced myself from them. I did not hug my two-and-a-half-year-old son on my return home from the office, just in case. That isolation wound up being the right call as my fever continued to rise.
I had been so sure that my body was fit enough to fight any kind of viruses. I have always been healthy since childhood. Besides an occasional cough, cold, flu, or cuts and bruises, I have never had any major illness. This was not possible, I told myself. There was no way I could be infected.
But the fever continued to rise and so I went to see a doctor who gave me a COVID test. Hearing the possibility voiced by a professional broke me. All my high beliefs about myself came shattering down. I had been proved wrong. Life felt like it was slipping through my hands. My fun-loving and carefree attitude got replaced by worry and concern almost overnight.
I began asking myself, What about Arjun? Have I saved enough for his education? How will he manage? What about Aakansha? I made so many promises to her. Am I going to break them all? And eventually, Why Me?
I started experiencing extreme weakness and fatigue as I waited for my results. Although I knew the outcome of the test even before the result came as the common COVID symptoms had started appearing. I do not know whether the mind was taking control of the body, or the body was overpowering the mind. But I was rapidly losing my sense of taste and smell. I loved eating, but now, I was forcing myself to eat food as it was completely tasteless. I was finding it difficult to move about. During that time, all that I could think about was Arjun and Aakansha.
And then, my wife Aakansha developed a fever. Even though I tried to isolate, it must have been too late. Knowing that I brought the infection into the house broke me completely. This emotional guilt along with my physical weakness was taking its toll on me. I felt completely helpless. I would lie in bed and stare at the ceiling blankly. I soon developed diarrhea and found it increasingly difficult to even walk to the bathroom.
I felt that life had stopped completely. I was completely exhausted and losing weight rapidly. With no cure, I knew I’d just have to suffer and hope the virus passes through me. But the medicines prescribed by the doctor were not helping. By that point, I had lost faith in everyone—myself, God, medical science, and life itself. How can one hope while they are suffering? I was simply waiting for the worst to happen—and happen fast.
My wife was loving and supportive through the struggles, but I could sense the quiver in her lips and the tremble in her hands as she served me food each day. And the worst thing was that I had no words of consolation for her! And now, I was dreading the moment when Aakansha’s test results came.
The universe seemed to smile slightly down on me by having my wife test negative. This was the first glimmer of hope for both of us after a long time. It made me wonder if not all was lost. My true change when I looked at how my son Arjun was reacting.
He was a ball of sunshine, radiating positivity. For him, the pandemic did not make any sense. He was overjoyed just by looking at his dad! Having his mom and dad around him meant the world to him. Even if I could not hold him, he was happy showing me his toys and chatting with me. This was his complete and happy world!
That was it. I had all my answers. The confidence on his face said it all.
“My daddy is the strongest. My daddy is the best. My daddy is a superhero.”
Now my path was clearly set in front of me. I cannot prove my son wrong. Arjun believes in me, and I am going to maintain that belief. There is no way I will let a virus take away mine or my son’s happiness. Maybe this was life’s way of telling me that I cannot be defeated, that I can fight and win.