The pit was dark, the noose of the rope tightened around his neck, he was being sucked into the quicksand.
The vibration of the cell phone jolted Ron from his nightmare. Drenched with perspiration, he grappled at the bedside table, still deep in slumber. It was nearly 3 am and Ira, his sister was calling.
“Dini has high temperature…… I’ve asked the governess, Mrs. Smith to keep her in isolation at home and observe the symptoms …… I …..” she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Let me check with the governess, I’ll call you back.”
Ron was exhausted, he had hardly slept for three hours. His head was reeling from the long hours at the hospital.
His niece picked up the phone at his sister’s Leicestershire home,
“Captain! Mom panicked and called you.”
“Princess, morning! How’re you feeling?”
“Great! I’m secured between physicians. It’s 8:00 am, I’ve to log in for my school classes, talk to you later.”
Mrs. Smith updated Ron about Dini’s condition. He advised her regarding the medication, food and care for Dini, and to keep him posted instead of Ira.
Next, he briefed his divorced sister, who had volunteered with MSF1 and currently deployed in Italy.
Ron sat at the edge of the bed trying to grapple and digest the information. 87 days have passed, he was losing this fight in comparison to the previous cases of Ebola and Zika. It was overwhelming how confident physicians felt powerless during such catastrophic pandemic. His thoughts were burdening his already overburdened brain, he must decide fast.
The early morning shower and coffee uplifted his withering spirits. He stepped outside, the fresh morning breeze of Spring struck his face and cleared the immensity trapped in his brain. He was contemplating whether he should inform Liz, his girlfriend before leaving when he heard,
“Are you ready to leave at this hour?”
He cleared his throat, “Morning Liz, so early? Is everything alright? Need to follow up on some critical cases.”
Sarcasm oozing, she smirked, “Savior of mankind, without Thee the world is doomed, as I pass through Hell.”
Without further conversations, Ron stepped inside his car and sped. The roads were deserted, within fifteen minutes he reached Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. From the parking area, he made a few phone calls. Another very busy day awaited him, and before Ron plunged inside into the mayhem, he wanted to check on his mother battling a tough battle.
Linda, their mother had been actively participating in her organization’s CSR2 activities and had travelled to places. This time, a strange incident took place during her visit to India. The condominium management where she was staying along with her colleagues had objected to her presence due to her Mongoloid features. The residents assumed she had travelled from China and was the reason for the spread of the virus in the country.
“Mom, what’s the update?”
“I’m good. I’ve shifted to a hotel, will message you the details. What I see, the situation is getting scary in NYC, you take care. I’ve not heard from Ira, how’re things with her?”
“I spoke to her, don’t worry, take care, come back soon, Mom.”
Next Ron left a voicemail for Liz, “We’ve to talk tonight. These are trying times and unpredictable circumstances. It’s unfortunate if we part ways, but I completely understand and support you. Whatever you decide for our child I stand by you. Love you.”
His vision was crystal clear; the decision was made.
The hospital had 15 ICU3 and 632 beds; filled with COVID-194 patients, and they never stayed empty for long with the herculean increase in cases. It was akin to being in a war zone with physical and emotional wounds. He desperately craved for the oracle to decide, between the humans to be saved and rest to die for the dearth of ventilators. His helplessness had crossed the thin line between savior, traitor and mourner, playing different roles in one garb, his conscience sometimes filled with guilt and other times with grief.
At night Ron put his gloves and mask in a bag and stepped out of the hospital. The lights were still on when he reached home.
Liz came and sat next to him,
“How did the day go?”
Ron shook his head, “Hundred deaths reported from the state hospitals. My contribution was five.”
Liz took Ron’s hand and tenderly placed it on her abdomen.
“I feel helpless, my motherly instincts make me selfish at times.”
Ron gently patted her, “My feelings will always remain the same for you, but you can feel the severity of this unprecedented situation. My family has been scattered and I’m unsure about them. Dini is alone in the UK, down with the virus I think, and her mother is not with her. Mom is not well and unable to travel back during these difficult times. I’m on the brink of losing my stability.”
Liz interrupted, “You’ve just recovered from this viral disease.”
“Yes, I have the opportunity to enroll in the National COVID–19 convalescent plasma clinical trial, which is seeking blood plasma donations containing antibodies from recovered patients, to be transfused into seriously ill; to help fight the virus.”
Liz anxiously looked into Ron’s eyes, “I’m worried about your health and our future.”
“I’m accountable to you but this time I’m firm with my decision. I can’t visualize countless unexplained deaths anymore.”
“I’ve known you since childhood, and you’ll not change your decision for anyone.” Liz paused and softly concluded, “We both will wait for you.”
Ron sighed, “I walk into this battlefield without any weapons, help me to combat and gift life to innocent souls and also our child entering this world soon.”
That night Ron slept peacefully as he recollected the quote by Zig Ziglar, “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”
1.MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders
2.CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility
3.ICU – Intensive Care Unit
4.COVID – 19 – Coronavirus disease 2019
Photo by: Hal Gatewood
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