The Close Shave

Naturally, my household and I are not socialising much. If at all we do, it’s in bubbles. I have met friends for walks in the park. I met another friend at her house where we always sat with at least two feet between us. Stuff like that.

Last Thursday, my Uncle organised a lunch for us. We were 12 people in all including two young children. The family that hosted us had six members. It was a ceremony and we had a late lunch. It was the largest such gathering we have been to since corona began. I was apprehensive but not socialising or dressing up and getting out has been driving me crazy. So in all honesty, I enjoyed the break.

We had a late but delectable, ceremonial lunch on leaves, and laughed at the antics of the children. For a while, life seemed free of fears and fun.

On Sunday when I woke up, I felt an itch in my ears and throat. By Sunday night, I was coughing and feverish. I could feel myself getting worse.

When I woke up on Monday, I had a bad sore throat and my head felt hangover-heavy.

I didn’t think I had COVID-19, but I had to check for sure. Also, having gone out and having met so many people meant I couldn’t be 100% sure I didn’t have it.

When I saw my physician, she ordered a COVID-19 test too. The symptoms all seemed to match.

The process is simple. The doctor takes down your details and shares it with a lab. You call the lab, set up an appointment, and as far as possible, isolate yourself.

If you can’t isolate in your home, wearing a mask at all times is a safe and essential practice.

The lab technician comes home and takes a swab from your nose and throat. It’s gross and not comfortable but you survive it.

The test should not cost you more than INR 2500 because that’s the cap the government has ordered. Home sample collection charges might be extra. They also collect your Aadhar number and I think the data is collected and tabulated somewhere.

Then you wait up to 48 hours for the result, all the while isolating. Touch fewer surfaces by restricting your range of movements.
If you have people around you, it’s imperative that all of you wear masks.

I had it easy because I could shut myself rather comfortably on one floor of my house and my mother supplied the meals.

In all this time, I sipped only warm water mixed with ginger. I made spice infusions and had that instead of tea or coffee. And I did a lot of steam inhalation and the ever-so disgusting salt water gargling. I also drank over-the-counter, herbal cough syrup copiously.

I got the result in under thirty hours and I didn’t have COVID-19.

By then I knew for certain that I didn’t because my sore throat had almost gone, and there was no sign of a cough. However, I had lost my voice.

So now I have a very sexy, raspy, bluesy singer voice and I am sad that when the antibiotics I take for the laryngitis I do have works, I will get my normal voice back.

This week was mildly stressful.

It also showed me again and anew how fragile life is.

It made me realise that much as I love people, food, dressing up, getting out and all the rest, this is definitely not the time for such risks. And it is a huge risk if you are immuno-compromised. While it is true, I didn’t get corona when I went out this time, I did catch laryngitis. It is an infection and I have been super vulnerable to infections since I turned 29 and was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. So I probably got it from someone who merely carried the virus and perhaps had a mild case of the sniffles. But when I caught it, it became big, almost covid like, and finally retreated as laryngitis.

And here’s why this post:

  1. If you are even mildly ill, stay indoors. Seek help and treatment on time.
  2. Don’t ignore your symptoms.
  3. Don’t avoid consulting a doctor because you have heard all the conspiracy theories about doctors being in on a COVID-19 scam and needlessly testing people to make money.
  4. Get tested at the right lab. Check costs and don’t get scammed. It should not cost more than INR 2500.
  5. Isolate at the first hint of illness because you might be around people who are vulnerable.
  6. And, really, please rethink social gatherings. If you must meet large groups of people socially, meet outdoors in parks or gardens, and don’t touch each other, and don’t eat or drink together.

My cousin was upset when I yelled at him and my dad for shaking hands. But social graces mean nothing when you are dead. And it’s not me being paranoid. Even if I am, unless you can give me a vaccine, I am entitled to this paranoia and you can really fuck your judgments.

So as far as possible, I urge everyone reading this to maintain social distancing and to stay indoors as much as you can.

If you have COVID-19 and die, you are just a statistical number, and no one gives a fuck about that. For all of us, remember that it’s only our immediate family that will suffer the consequences of losing us in such a meaningless fashion.

Parties, weddings, get-togethers can wait. Funerals don’t.

So please stay safe. Please wear masks the right way. Touch and eat only with the people in your bubble. Keep your bubble small. Let’s please look after each other.

About Bhumika's Boudoir

I love to laugh, and end up being a part of high drama and stormy emotion even when I don't pursue it. Being creative, and communicating with people get me going. I enjoy all the good things in life especially those that are slightly risque, and apologise little, if ever, for all that I do. Literature is a passion and so is music.
This entry was posted in In Sickness and In Health. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Close Shave

  1. KayPrism says:

    Your piece is fair warning to folk in India- and you’ve begun by describing a family event, quite unobtrusively, building the premise into it, rather cleverly. I Think you make your point and you drive it home without much ado, yet never do you steer away from the seriousness of the thought at hand. Well done, and thanks for writing this post Bhumika. It is vital that one grasps the urgency of this matter.


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