Editor’s note : This is a piece by someone in the healthcare sector and is at the forefront of Covid-19 response teams. We at the Good People Diaries express our gratitude to all essential service providers. While most of us try and encourage each other in our work, we cannot be as human beings all cheerful and all positive all the time. Hence to acknowledge emotions arising out of a very frustrating and daunting challenge that we face today, all perspectives are needed. Most of all honest perspectives are needed.
This is an opinion piece that makes us reflect whether we as a society are giving enough thought to the dignity of elderly in these troubled times. It might agitate you, make you upset or raise questions for which you might look for answers elsewhere. It is precisely this reason that the author has written this and would like to stay unnamed in this piece. …..
This country is no country for old men. This pandemic is no pandemic for old men. In a place and time where there is no room for old men, the old women would not matter anyway. And if the old men and women do not matter, the others who do not fit our artificial gender binaries do not exist. This is a good thing – if they existed, they would not live to grow old, and if they did, they would matter even less.
Why would the old matter now – they never did. Why would we care now- we never did. We are not a cruel people. We love our old. We worship them. They’re here for a reason – to provide blessings on demand and act as babysitters at a minute’s notice. It’s just that they’re not supposed to have needs or desires. They give and we receive. And when they have nothing left to give –they should do the decent thing and curl up and die.
It isn’t surprising then, that when a pandemic that no one expected came knocking, we sent they away to die. Italy did it, so can we. We’re in the midst of a lockdown – with migrants and refugees teeming at the borders. There are people over the Arabian Sea – starving and homeless who want to come back to us. We don’t want any of them though –they’re probably plague ridden and diseased. We can send them all away to die. This pandemic doesn’t need them anyway.
We’ve locked down the nation. This was good. This was needed. We just forgot, while keeping ourselves safe at home and warm in our beds, to provide for our old and our travellers. They slipped through the cracks of public health and public policy while we banged pots and pans to keep a virus away.
This makes me angry. Not at ourselves, for we did nothing wrong. At the old – the others. What right did they have to expect that the country would provide them with the food and medicines they need, after we locked them away? Of course water and electricity bills would go unpaid. The police and the neighbourhood chase them away and threaten them when they venture out of doors to buy their bread. They’re weak and frail and will catch the virus and fall sick and die. That is unfortunate, but they would have died one day. Why not today?
We aren’t worried about that. It’s just that we don’t want them to push the numbers of those infected up while we rush to flatten the curve and salvage the economy. It would make the nation look bad. It’s also why we threw them out of our hospitals to save our beds and our ventilators for the young. We don’t want them dying in the hospital and making us look bad.
It’s their fault – for having needs and wants and desires when they no longer should have. How dare they? They’re wrong to expect food security and health care from a nation fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone has to tighten their belts. Our old are just the notches on the belt which slipped past. We were always going to fail them. They were wrong to expect anything different. They were wrong to expect help from us. We’re doing them a failure by ignoring and isolating and abusing them, anyway.
We are the world’s largest democracy. We are young. We are strong. We burn bright. We’ll make it out of this pandemic. We’ll make it past the dark time and the dank spells. We’ll come out of this stronger.
They’re the others – paper thin and egg shell fragile. They’re the sacrifices we will make upon the altar of greater good to pacify the capricious horsemen of the apocalypse. And they will gladly make this sacrifice, as they have made others – for us. They will gladly lay down their lives to conserve our low running resources. They’re grateful for the opportunity, really. So send your old away to die – this pandemic doesn’t need them anyway.
– Dr. Migita Cruz