We seem to have forgotten the traumatic years humanity scraped through during Covid-19 pandemic. But my nightmarish affair with the virus is indelibly printed on my mind, and so is the memory of the green angels who saved me.
I got infected with the lethal virus during the second wave. My blood oxygen was dipping, the pernicious cough increasing and my appetite disappearing each day at an alarming rate. I could read the deepening lines of anxiety behind my poker-faced husband’s reassuring smile or concealed in my son’s careless tantrums. The forebodings of an approaching tragedy made them panic. They decided to get me admitted to a hospital and when I was being taken to the facility in an ambulance, the despairing thoughts of an abrupt end to my existence with so many loose ends left unattended were pestering my mind. The hallucinating images of my own undignified funeral as a Covid patient were playing before my closed eyes like a video film.
And when the two nurses wrapped in PPE kits appeared to escort me from the entrance of the Covid-lift of the hospital, they looked like messengers of death to me. “The ‘yamdoots’ have come to take your soul,” I felt someone whispering to me.
A little while later, I was stretched on a cosy bed in the Covid-ward and breathing a bit comfortably. It was a brightly lit, spotlessly clean hall with six symmetrically arranged beds and a nurses’ station in the centre. Four beds were already occupied, and a few nurses clad in green protective gear gilded between them.
Shortly after, I found out that most of them were from Himachal Pradesh. They were all dutiful, cordial, and affectionate; always ready to help, cheerful and chirping like birds. I had mistaken them as messengers of death. In reality, they were angels of hope.
A cannula was inserted into my left arm and I could not know how many medicines, Ramdesivirs, steroids, and an assortment of liquids were injected into my veins. But now, with the benefit of hindsight, I realise that what really did the trick and brought me back from the clutches of possible death were those warbling angels smiling genially behind their face shields.
In cheerful whispers, they infused into my psyche the determination to survive and strength to fight the deadly virus. Every time a nurse came to me to measure my blood pressure or blood oxygen levels, she would continue with some running joke and add in a chirpy whisper, “Aunty, a smile sits very beautifully on your face, keep it intact. And have my word, you will leave this ward within a week laughing all the way!”
Even the youngish doctor-in-charge of the ward was endowed with a benign sense of humour. He addressed me as “mata ji” though I am not old enough to merit it. As my appetite was improving each day, he promised me that I would get whatever I liked for my meals. But when I once requested Chinese dishes for lunch, he refused point blank, “No, mata ji! No Chinese food for you. You’ve had enough of the Chinese virus.”
I was discharged on the seventh day. When my husband and son came to take me to the entrance of the Covid-lift, the same two PPE-clad figures appeared with me in the wheelchair. But this time I was laughing, as very aptly predicted by one of the angels. My eyes were moist with gratitude while saying goodbye to the nameless girls.
(The writer is a retired Panchkula-based architect).