COVID-19: The Casualty Count

Every hour, minute, second: the death toll piles up.

The pandemic, and its certified harbinger – the television – rages on. But unfortunately, the corpses aren’t the only ones being transported in a body bag that they didn’t ask for and which, in a better world, could have been avoided. Even for those who have been ‘spared’, life has acquired the same suffocating darkness and listless monotony.

The intent of my words isn’t to disrespect victims by comparing their suffering to my own or to make a parody of the selflessness of those working on the front lines, or, indeed, to ignore my own privilege. I am lucky that I am not one of the tens of thousands that have succumbed to this virus. I am lucky that I can write this, that I can vent and rant, while being safe (well, as safe as I can be) in the confines of my home. I am lucky that I am not a healthcare worker, dangerously exposed every day, or a daily wage labourer, stranded and alone.

But for all the ways those of us, including myself, who are relatively better off – we too have had a lot taken from us.

Early morning tennis class spent feeling the sun on my face, every part of me moving, hitting, alive. Warm hugs and lively dinners with friends, all of us speaking over each other without the inconvenience of muted mics and weak internet. Going on that long-planned trip: beaches and sand and idling around without pausing with panic anytime someone sneezes.

And school. School.

Also read: Coronavirus: How to Avoid Cabin Fever

Savouring the last days of being a child, asking questions without a 12-inch screen and blurry pixels between me and the teacher.

I miss all of this, miss the life that I had planned, the life that I think I deserved: a perfect vision derailed, or perhaps destroyed, by this pandemic. But most acutely, I lament time passing me by: the moments and opportunities and memories that could have been, that I will now never get a chance to experience.

Social media optimists will have you believe that this is a blessing in disguise, that the COVID-19 outbreak has helped us slow down, enjoy life, spend time with our families. To which I say: there may be many lessons, but there’s little joy in being cooped up indoors, sucking in calories and sleeping (and feeling worthless after), and struggling with household chores.

There is no one to blame for this situation; or perhaps, as some people suggest, we are all to blame. Our excesses have wrought this monster. Be that as it may, no one asked for this. No one chose this. And, I would like to think, should we get a do-over, no one would allow this to happen.

But it is what it is.

The truth is that life is short enough as it is, and the coronavirus, in more ways than one, has made it shorter.

Featured image credit: Akshar Dave/Unsplash