A Letter to the People of my Grieving Country

Disclaimer - This letter shall little by little uncover some unfiltered and extremely overpowering thoughts that rule my head right now. I shall not try to be politically polite and in some cases, even correct. However, this shall be reflective of my current feelings, raw and ruffled aiming to do justice to the rage of any university student.

I have sat down to write this not only because it captures a reality that needs to be explained but because it’s an acknowledgment of my privilege. The privilege that allows me to channelize my angst onto paper and have people read it. I’d wish for this letter, a hurricane of thoughts I’d myself get wound up in, to be discovered a few hundred years later in the more democratic and developed India of my dreams, and remind the people that when the nation was suffocated by its structural vulnerabilities, university students gave in their best to support a crippling pandemic affected country.

The second wave of more than a year old Covid-19 pandemic knocked on our doors in April 2021. A month later, India is the country worst hit by this wave. On 28th April, a World Health Organisation (WHO) report gave the world a situation update which wasn’t surprising at all. It reported that India led the world in the daily average number of infections reported accounting for almost 50% of them. Additionally, India comprised the fourth-highest number of deaths in the world, another bone-chilling statistic that doesn’t hit our numb minds anymore.

I can ramble on for a few hours highlighting how India’s crisis has been a result of the gross incompetence of a regime that has failed all but I’ll not do that here. However, that has set the background my entire narrative revolves around for had our leaders prepared the country for the ongoing tragedy, teenagers wouldn’t have had to spend nights hunting for medical supplies.

In the last three weeks, I’ve tried each day to swim through the pool of information on social media to fetch that one contact that might get medical help for a person who needs it urgently. The truth is, every need is urgent and most contacts don’t pan out. However, despite the heavy burden of assignments, familial emergencies, and a life that requires immediate saving, the strength and solidarity students display every day has indeed been of help to many and has indeed saved precious lives. That reflects the fighting spirit that we’re capable of finding and must keep ignited across the country even as we give ourselves and others the space for breaks and breakdowns before we can stand again.

With this paragraph, I’d like to highlight that there perhaps are no rights and wrongs in the situation we’re caught in right now. Too many of us have been caught in awkward positions between matters of morality and circumstances. Too many of us have skimmed through personal contacts to ensure our patients get beds and injections. Too many of us have purchased medical supplies at sky-high prices. Too many of us have sold medical supplies with unethical demands. If what I say next evokes a revolting feeling in your heart, please give me a chance, hear me out. I acknowledge that too many of us have indulged in activities that no arguments can justify but I understand the situations that must’ve compelled those activities. It’s true that human life cannot always be bought but it’s also true that people shall pay any price to save one. While it saddens my heart to see what a manifestation of privilege it is to be able to save your family, I understand if some of you all who read this have gone to inevitable extents to do the same.

This paragraph is for my university. I’ve taken immense pride in announcing my affiliation with you to the world but you’ve often disappointed me. For about two years I’ve given such priority to my assignments that I never realized how toxic my assignment obsession had become. This time, however, I struggled to complete them. With a family member infected with Covid-19, I struggled to fill my examination form on time. Just when I thought I’d lash out at you through this article, you announced breaks from classes and postponed examinations, something so unexpected that it immediately softened my heart knowing that several other universities shall apathetically go ahead with examinations and assignments at a time when students’ suffer boundlessly.

In the last 15 days, I’ve felt guilt piercing through my body every time I’ve been even slightly happy. I know that it has been my privilege alone that has allowed me to find some good moments amidst the ongoing storm but this is my appeal to everyone to know that you don’t get to decide how you feel. It’s okay if you don’t lament in unison with the entire world. Please remember that right now it’s enough to care only about the ones close to you and it’s imperative to let yourself feel the rare good moments that come your way.

This paragraph comes last but is definitely a pertinent one. I know that a lot many people of India have witnessed tragedy from such close proximity that it seems almost impossible to not let it consume you. However, I’d pray that it consumes you only in a way that it fills you with strength and pushes you with determination to help another person for it’s true that we’re all in the same storm but definitely not in the same boat.