“Mum, I tested positive for COVID!”
I am numb for a second.
The setting couldn’t be more unreal for I am in a taxi. The Knight and I are on our way to the airport. Just a few seconds ago we were congratulating ourselves on leaving the baby of the family safely in the big city during the pandemic.
I grip my mobile phone even more tightly.
“Do you have any symptoms? Where are they keeping you? Did you show your RTPCR test report that says negative? Could something be wrong with the test? Shucks! I was the last one to see you, right?”
I can see the cab driver looking anxiously at me in the rearview mirror. He offers me a sanitiser bottle. Now was not the time to press the panic button.
“Mum, I don’t have any symptoms. The officials said they will schedule another test if I remain like this-with no symptoms. Meanwhile, I’m quarantined in my hotel room. I can taste and smell everything. No cough or fever either.”
For a person delivering such shattering news, my young girl was remarkably composed.
Deep breaths! My little girl had tested positive and I was zooming out of her city in the next two hours. What if we are not allowed to fly out? The Knight and I would be stranded in this big place without any resources or family support. Also, the test report had to be faulty. Heavens! Were we infected too?
The Knight is jumpy and I am a mess.
The smell of the filter coffee at the airport is enough to bolster our flagging spirits. Yes, we smelt it right through our masks. We had to be fine.
Hopeful but with the confidence none of us were feeling, we flew back home without any drama. By the way, we carried our own negative RTPCR test conducted three days ago. We just couldn’t have got the bug except now with Ms. Teen under a Corona cloud, we were suspects. Our face shields and double masks remained firmly in place all the way to our rooms.
Four days later, we whooped with joy; Teen Queen tested negative and none of my contacts back in the city were sick. Good times could begin but within that waiting period, the Knight and I developed a raging cough. I got a weird stomach ache too that made me want to curl up into a ball. A possible Corona infection? Well, Google was no help.
I readily agreed to dash off at 10 pm for a RAT (Rapid Antigen Test). Oh, and a lockdown was in place so the deserted road with a siren blaring police vehicle patrolling looked like a scene from an apocalyptic world. We got our negative results after a nerve- racking 20 minutes wait. Before we could celebrate, we were informed that RAT can only be taken as 60 % accurate. Go figure!
The next day, the hubby became sick. He was recommended a chest X-Ray so we took off to the local hospital. The trip was nothing short of a nightmare. The hospital reception teemed with people literally penned together in corners. The rest spilled all over the hallway and at the entrance. I saw firsthand, the patients pleading for an emergency admission because they needed oxygen. It was terrifying!
For once, the news channels on the telly are not exaggerating the despair and death. Facebook is no longer a mindless source of comfort; its posts have morphed into a list of obituaries and prayers. Now more than ever, my social media accounts have turned into a plasma/ hospital bed / Remdesivir / oxygen seeking request machinery.
Recently there was an SOS from an old mate on my WhatsApp. He was looking for an oxygen concentrator. Apparently, his father-in-law could only get a bed in the hospital if he bought his own oxygen cylinder. I am still stumped!
The same friend later spoke of escaping a lathi charge while going on oxygen refuel run, of queuing up till 3.30 am, and finally coming back home at 4 in the morning. He shared the pictures he clicked of rows of cylinders with their handlers sitting around, waiting for their turn for refills.
Another classmate said he travelled from Jaipur to Noida to pick an oxygen cylinder for his sick wife in Meerut. Scary, right?
Now my Arogya Setu App tells me that I may be at low risk of infection. Apparently, I may have had contact with an infected person for a minute the day I accompanied my husband for the X-ray.
That inspired a mad scramble to take my first dose of vaccine.
“What doesn’t kill us gives us something new to write about.”Julie Wright
Hopefully, the vaccine lives up to its promise of not letting me die.
PS: The only acceptable test right now for Corona, the RTPCR home testing facility is either currently not available or following a crazy schedule. We received our test report after 5 whole days. My father-in-law tested positive in that. Is he still sick? Your guess is as good as mine because he is showing no symptoms. Meanwhile, it is back to double masks and prayers and staying indoors.
I hope you all are doing the same.