The Virus that Killed Humanity
Bleep! She scrolled down to WhatsApp. She felt darkness and melancholy closing in as she read the message in the doctor’s group—
“Dr. Simon Hercules, who died after contracting novel coronavirus from a patient, was denied burial by the locals. The mob not only protested at the cemetery but also hurled stones at the ambulance.”
Oh! The disgrace and humiliation! They had become her once noble profession’s middle name!
Dignity denied even at that very last juncture!
Dr. Natasha Menon, a senior resident in the state-run hospital, adjusted the blue gown and mask and walked up to the window. Her eyes followed the inane movements of cars filling the spaces next to the ambulances in the parking lot as her mind wandered.
She had been a part of the COVID-19 contingency plan from the beginning, working in shifts, providing 24/7 care. She could never forget that portentous day— the last day of her fortnightly work shift. She could hardly wait to head to her break and catch a glimpse of her five-year-old daughter.
But it was not to be! The RT-PCR test conducted on account of her mild cough and slight fever—had confirmed her worst nightmare. She had tested positive.
She closed her eyes as the images of what had followed soon after flashed in, one after the other. The deadly virus slowly swallowed not only her physical strength but also her internal cognizance. After an early futile scuffle, her body had simply surrendered to the resolute microbe as it wreaked havoc inside her system. It had felt like walking amidst chaos and confusion.
But now it was all gone.
Very soon, her daughter will be in her arms, she had fulfilled her duty, and now it was time for her to return home. The train of her thoughts was, however, interrupted as two porters barged into her cubicle.
They walked up to what seemed like a body. It was swathed in the coarse white fabric, tightly secured by twines. She had been so lost in her thoughts that she had altogether missed it. Maybe it was the wrong room, she thought. She turned to exit when a tag hanging loosely by the body caught her attention.
She leaned against the wall to steady herself as the casual chatter of the porters melted into her ears, “they are calling them casualties of war! But will anyone remember these doctors who perish in the line of fire as martyrs? A soldier also returns home, wrapped in tricolor … while looking at them. In the end, we’ll all be just another name on the tag, just like this doctor— Dr. Natasha Menon.” The porter exclaimed as he held the tag in his hand.
“Don’t philosophize, Bhai! Let’s hurry up. The police have already reached the burial grounds to keep the miscreants at bay. I hope this one at least receives dignified last rites.” The other porter admonished his partner as they shifted her body out.
RT-PCR– real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (real-time RT-PCR), one of the laboratory methods for detecting, tracking, and studying the coronavirus.
Bhai- (Hindi)-meaning brother
I wrote this story for a prompt-based contest by the Asian Literary society. The prompt was to weave a story around ‘Frontline Heroes.’ This story was chosen as one of the winners. You can see the certificate here-