You have truly been my Langtoos since we roamed the lanes of Karol Bagh in our langots. By the time you read this, I would have gone far far away never to return. Unlike the popular belief there’s no afterlife… we are just dots of different sizes according to our deeds on the earth… I will be able to communicate with you only for few more hours as I am shrinking every moment and racing towards a big dot, perhaps bigger than the sun that we see from earth. It seems every soul or the dot gets shrunk and is absorbed in that big dot… may be it is the Baikunthadham, the ultimate resting place for the souls.
Goodbye my friend, we won’t meet again.”
The above thought lingered in my mind in the delirium of extreme high fever…
I was all set to take the mid-morning flight to Ranchi on 5th May 2022 to attend the wedding reception of dear Judha & Tania, in fact I convinced my friend Alok to go with me a day earlier than he had planned. However, there is many a slip between the cup and lip… on the morning of 3rd May I woke up with bad throat, even drinking water and tea was hurting. Just a week before Deepika and the housekeeper were down with Omicron variant of Covid-19. Though both recovered within 4-5 days, the doubt that the virus is lingering in the house somewhere to attack the unsuspecting remained. Deepika had a spare test kit of Rapid Antigen Test and used it to check me… immediately I became covid affected!! The good part was that all three of us have been living in isolated condition for the last one week and continued with the same arrangement.
I knew my Ranchi trip stands cancelled but there was a glimmer of hope that the test may not be correct and I am actually covid negative. Deepika suggested that if I have no other symptoms namely, fever, cough or body ache, then I test again on the morning of 5th and take the final call.
We had decided to bless the newlywed couple collectively with cash to be presented in a nice carved wooden box along with a citation. I was entrusted with creating the citation and getting it printed on a good quality paper. My venturing out to the market to get it printed was ruled out. There was also the issue of handing over the contribution money, not just mine but Jallu’s as well. He was not able to join the party as his appointment with the doctor for his wife, Rupa at Vellore hospital happened to be at those very dates… and therefore he had sent his contribution to me.
I called up Satyabrata and explained him the situation, told him that I will be sending him the PDF file of the citation for printing at his end. His reaction was and I loved it, “You are absolutely fine… the RAT is not authentic… test it again on 5th morning before getting on the flight”.
My next call was Gora to update him. I told him that I will be transferring the contribution amount of mine as well as Jallu’s. His bank details were registered with my bank as I had transferred some money while we were in Hyderabad. His reaction was more balanced with suggestion to take ample rest and if the health worsens, then go for RTPCR test and consult the doctor. I told him that I had a video consultation with doctor and taking the medicines as prescribed.
Having accomplished both tasks, I decided to take it easy and rest if that would help in quick recovery. But I had already decided to abandon the Ranchi trip knowing well that my conscience wouldn’t allow me even if the fresh test result is negative.
On the insistence of my son, we consulted a doctor on the Practo App over video call. He prescribed medicines and suggested blood and urine test, which we immediately got done on 3rd May itself. The result was available in the evening which showed some anomaly in the urine result but nothing to worry as per the doctor.
On the 4th early hours of the morning, (around 2 am), I suddenly felt extreme shivering with burning body temperature… it felt as if I am at Rohtang Pass and at the same time inside a boiler room. I wore my “down jacket”, doubled up the blanket to stop the shivering. I did not check but it was good 30-40 minutes when the shivering subsided to allow me to search for a paracetamol and take it. Soon I started sweating and the fever subsided and I slept. I thought the fever was a freak case but no, it made a comeback post lunch to put the scare not only to me but Deepika as well. She consulted with her brother who arranged for the home visit of CMO of Sitaram Bhartiya Hospital following day. Meanwhile, I had a chat with Indro and he told me send him the test result and the prescription for Judha (he is a doctor by profession) to check as well.
The doctor from Practo had prescribed some 7-8 medicines but both CMO of SBH and Judha cut them down to just 3 and prescribed one additional medicine after they diagnosed the fever to have caused by urine infection. I was mighty amazed with the fact that both of them removed the exact same medicines from the schedule and prescribed the same medicine for urine infection. Not only that, both doctors said that a single dose of the medicine is good enough to cure the infection.
The fever did not come back and I started feeling better but decided to go for RTPCR test as well, only to reconfirm that I am still covid positive. I received numerous calls from Delhi govt as well as GoI health department advising me to remain in isolation and take medicine as advised by the doctor. I told them in each occasion that I am in isolation for over a week and taking medicines as advised.
I received a long text message from Gora on the intervening night of 3-4 May. It asked about my health situation and advised to consult doctor. And then he also mentioned about the apprehension of some of our childhood friends about my joining them still being infected. Some of them even threatened to cancel their trip if I decide to go. Initially, I was hurt, irritated and angry but then realized in the mass of some 20+ schoolmates, there are only a handful of real friends and only they matter to me… the rest are not friends but just acquaintances with whom you do handshakes and smile at gatherings.
Anyways, I posted my position on the WA group (specially created to communicate between the ones who were attending the wedding reception) with assurance that I am not joining the celebrations because of my sudden illness. My inner self heard lots of “sigh of relief” from my so-called friends!!
There’s a silver lining to all dark clouds… in this case, it opened my eyes to the fact that one doesn’t become friends just by attending school together for few years. It was hurtful that few of them doubted my wisdom and thought I will be irresponsible enough to not just infect them but a wider group at the wedding reception. I am happy to have few lesser number of friends than a large group of acquaintances, for me they have ceased to exist in my world.
Way back in February when Indro finalized the wedding dates, I had told him that in all probability I won’t be able to attend… then the reason was completely different. Our housekeeper was going to her home in WB after a gap of 2 years for about 1.5 months and we were not sure if she would come back on time or at all. In her absence, I had to take care of the needs of our aging pet Rolf including cooking his food, feeding and cleaning him making it impossible for me to leave station. Whatever be the reason, my prophecy came true.
Now, I look forward to attending the Annaprashan ceremony of Indro’s grandchild!!
PS: I heard the stories of Ranchi from my friends, how they enjoyed their tiny vacation as well as all the gossips they shared while drinking the elixir of life… but since I was not at the spot, I decided not to include those snippets even the juicy ones…