Quota of Grief

My phone has been buzzing a lot lately.
I keep it on silent. So it buzzes, it does not ring.
Ringtones startle me. I startle easy.

Yeah, so my phone has been buzzing a lot.
Besides the languished calls back from the frantic ones I make to doctors, and helplines, and chemists,
they are calls and messages from friends and family.

“How are you doing?”
A row of concerned texts, interrupted by incessant WhatsApp group messages seeking beds, donors, oxygen, Remdesivir.

And I type out the standard, “I am okay, you be safe.”
Almost as if an automated response my fingers have memorised.

But the truth is — I am not okay.
But then I should be okay. I have everything.
And yet—

I need more comforting, I need more assurance. More, more more.
I need someone to tell me it will be alright. Over and over again.
But just like the medicines, nobody really has enough of it for themselves to give it away in earnest.

And then, it feels so selfish to only think about my home when there are scores of people on stretchers, on pavements outside hospitals gasping for breath.

I get warm food.
But I still need more comfort.
I know I am so much better off.
But I am still worried sick, for me, for my own.

Should I not worry less about me and more about them?
What quota of grief is acceptable to reserve for yourself when your whole country burns, your whole country mourns?

Anahita Mehra is a public policy researcher and currently pursuing law from Faculty of Law, Delhi University. She tweets @anahita_mehra.

Featured image: natureworks/Pixabay