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OP-ED: A look back with helplessness

  • Published at 08:01 pm March 26th, 2021
test covid queue
Photo: Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

We wanted to multiply our profits at a time when others were helpless

A year ago, in the month of March, with an unseen enemy hissing overhead, we thought we were doomed. We were afraid of everything around us. We were even scared of breathing the air that keeps us alive. We didn’t trust anything and anybody.

It was an exceptionally abnormal time.

After a year, most of the people around me have forgotten all those abnormalities, but they are still vivid in my mind.

I remember watching on television that our law enforcers as well as common people were hoisting red flags on the houses where a Covid-infected person was identified. The residents were forced to live like outcasts with no one to help them. All neighbours as well as relatives were avoiding them.

The Covid patients living in those houses didn’t have access to medicines that the physicians were prescribing at that time.

We have seen how people prevented suspected Covid patients from entering their own villages. Imagine what those infected people felt when their own relatives and neighbours threw them into the forest just because they had been attacked by a virus. There were even instances when we saw that children drove their parents out of their homes when the parents were infected.

We didn’t find volunteers to carry the patients to the hospitals. And then, when someone passed away, their relatives didn’t want the body of the deceased; they left the body in the hospitals. We witnessed that some unknown persons who came up to help in those helpless circumstances were burying the deceased.

If those humanitarian volunteers weren’t around, we would see bodies on the roads. Hundreds of people were buried as unidentified bodies. Their relatives or family members weren’t found anywhere near them.

The hospitals experienced an extreme scarcity of oxygen. We have seen how the patients in ICUs shared the same oxygen mask among themselves. We have also seen news of how some nurses and doctors didn’t want to go near the hospitalized patients. They threw medicines and food at the patients from a safe distance.

Millions of disadvantaged people had to depend on food relief donated by the better-off people. Millions lost their jobs. The number of beggars had increased across the country. Thousands had to leave the cities for the villages as there was no income in the cities.

The doors of the mosques, temples, and churches were closed. No one could go there and pray.

A hell of a time, wasn’t it?

Each and every human on Earth was helpless -- with no hope to survive as a human race. An enormous majority of us showed our selfishness in our own pursuits to survive. Many started hoarding food at home, fearing there would be a food shortage in the country.

It was also a time when many of us became unscrupulous and dishonest to the fullest. We wanted to multiply our profits at a time when others were helpless with no money to spend. We also sold fake and spurious goods and medicines.

We didn’t know what to do; because we couldn’t think clearly about the next course of our actions. The thought of death was always lurking around the corners of our minds. In our minds, we prayed most of the time.

After all this, now, has our life’s purpose changed? Are we any different than we used to be before the pandemic, after going through turmoil that we thought would make us better humans?

I believe the trauma of the pandemic should have changed us. But I don’t know and am unable to understand why we haven’t changed -- for the better. Have we become better husbands? Better wives? Better parents? Better children? Better colleagues? Better bosses?

Why do I still feel that we couldn’t change? What I was hoping for was to see us becoming more compassionate towards each other. More empathetic, so that the message of humanity goes across.

But that didn’t happen, even after many lessons learned during a difficult time. As we were reeling out of the scourge of the pandemic, we somehow went back to our own selves of the pre-pandemic era.

We somehow failed to achieve what we should have as the most advanced race. We went back to our conflict-ridden lifestyles, extravagances, and crimes that we have kept hidden deep inside our minds.

But we must look back -- what were we just a year ago? Weren’t we a bunch of helpless souls who didn’t know what soup we were in? 

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works are on ekramkabir.com.

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