Soulful Stories of Support

Dr Suresh Mathew Dr Suresh Mathew
10 May 2021

Disasters bring the best out of people. It is in times of adversity that the spring of goodwill swells over. We are seeing it, as the corona virus is battering a countless number of lives across the country. The second wave of Covid-19 turned the healthcare system and the related infrastructure upside down. The subcontinent has never, in its independent history, seen people running helter-skelter looking for hospital beds. It has not witnessed people, in such large numbers, dying for want of oxygen in hospitals and homes. Things have changed for the worst with people frantically searching for injections and other medicines. There are many in isolation, often the entire family, unable to make the ends meet. 

Amid such distressing scenarios, innumerable Good Samaritans, in every nook and cranny, have sprung into action to lend a helping hand. Emergency help has come in many ways: arranging oxygen cylinders; helping to find hospital beds; making plasma available; delivering food for those in isolation; taking the diseased to crematoriums, graveyards, and cemeteries; and much more. Social media platforms are flooded with information on the availability of healthcare facilities and ways to procure life-saving medicines and life-sustaining medical equipment. 

It is worthwhile to take note of some of the soulful stories of succour and support rendered by the ordinary mortals. When the body of a joint registrar of Allahabad High Court lay wrapped in a plastic sheet in a hospital for hours, it was his childhood Muslim friend who came driving down 400 km to take his body to the crematorium and lit the pyre. A woman and her family in Mumbai, who were running a restaurant, stopped their business and used their kitchen for churning out large quantities of staple food for isolated covid patients. When people in Delhi were gasping for breath for lack of Oxygen, a gurdwara on the outskirts of the National Capital ventured into a novel idea – holding oxygen langar – where people could go and get the ‘lifeline’. As people were running from pillar to post looking for hospital beds, a few dioceses made some of their institutions and premises available for converting them into temporary hospitals. The Ramakrishna Mission has offered some of its facilities for Covid treatment. So is a mosque in Delhi which has been turned into an isolation centre. Students of several colleges started operating helplines, some round-the-clock, to provide covid-related information. Joining the mammoth work are several NGOs who have started supplying ‘medical kits’ to the affected. Some are setting up first-level treatment centres to cope with the humongous task ahead.

These are just a few instances from among the massive efforts, both at the individual and institutional level, going on across India. Though the second wave of covid is ravaging the country, it could not weaken the bubbling spirit of benevolence and magnanimity of the ordinary mortals. As people started falling dead in homes, streets, and hospital premises, as governments have become scarecrows rather than helping hands, a countless number of people have emerged from anonymous backyards offering their shoulders to lean on. Many of them may not be hogging the limelight, but they are rendering Yeoman’s services. They may not be proclaiming from the rooftops what they are doing, but their works make the real change on the ground.

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