Pawan stared at the report in shocked silence. Never had he expected this! He was like any other 20-year-old man who was studying in a reputed college, had earned a name for himself in social media by doing Tik Tok videos, and dreamt of a career as an influencer. He took care of his parents, who were heart patients. His father was a muscular man who had a comfortable government job, and his mother was a tall lady with a pale look, who owned a dairy shop.
Pawan’s parents had been in their late thirties when Pawan was born, and he was their only child. Hence they had given him all that he wanted, and he was grateful for that. He would take them to the doctor and get them their medicines when they started having heart issues. Then came the pandemic.
When the Prime Minister of the country announced a lockdown due to the new deadly virus, Pawan had literally thrown a tantrum that both his parents stay indoors always. That was the first time he had thrown a tantrum ever since he was ten. Not only did he ensure social distancing at home, but he also brought masks, gloves, and sanitizers for the three of them.
He would go and buy his parents’ medicines. He needed to use the car for safety, so he got a driving license a day before the lockdown started. He himself rarely stepped out of the house even then.
He remembered the last time his parents were taken to the hospital. It was the first of October in 2019. The doctor was a mirthful-looking lady who had told him cheerfully that his parents will be fine. That meeting would’ve been fine provided the lady doctor had not told Pawan something that made the hairs at the back of his neck stand! “Your parents cannot take any shocking news! See to it that they are happy and comfortable. Keep them away from disturbing information.”
Here he was in the present day, having absolutely no idea where it all went wrong. How was he going to tell his parents something like this? After all the precautions every single one of them had taken?
He felt his eyes burning, and next instant, his cheeks could feel a brook going downhill. He didn’t realize he was violently shivering, and his doctor, this time another doctor, strictly said something that confirmed his worst fears.
Q-U-A-R-A-N-T-I-N-E in the H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L.
He wasn’t allowed to go home and, after requesting the doctor, was only allowed to make few calls. He heard his fathers’ voice. “Hello?”
“Hello, Dad. I will be outside for a couple of..” Pawan’s voice cracked. His father thought the line got cut and kept saying, “Hello? Pawan?”. Finally, Pawan’s mother took the phone and spoke in her shrill voice, “Pawan? Is that you? Where are you going?”
Before Pawan could say anything, the doctor was talking to another doctor and loudly said ‘Hospital’. Pawan stood still, and the silence on the other end of the line was evidently in shock.
His mothers’ voice was shaking when she asked him a moments later what he was doing at the hospital.
‘F-Fever. A-And.. Chest pain. That is all, M-Mom! Tell D-Dad also. I-I will be f-fine!’ Pawan stammered and cut the call.
He couldn’t sleep that night. Nightmares of his parents learning that their son now has Covid-19 and collapsing of cardiac arrests all rushed vividly into his mind. He cried to the nurse, who was taken aback as she just entered, “Why? Where did it all go wrong? I always wore masks, never for once neglected social distancing, always washed my hands! My parents also followed all the precautions!” He went on screaming and mumbling incoherent words.
The nurse was in tears and could only play him some soothing music from her cellphone. When Pawan relaxed, she said, ‘I have no idea. Actually, none of us are clear about how this virus works. It is already October 1, and it has been two days since you are here. We will be forced to inform your family about your condition because it is getting worse.”
Pawan’s eyes widened in shock, and then he screamed “No!” by which time the nurse was already at the door. He thought he could see one day in the future where his photo was on the wall, and it said ‘Pawan, 2000-2020.’ Next to the photo were two massive Chrysanthemum flowers one of which was pale and the other was wider. Were his parents alive or dead? He couldn’t see. His vision started blurring. Was it tears or..
Should Pawan’s parents be told that Pawan has Covid-19? Should they be notified that Pawan’s days are numbered? But what about their heart condition? Will they be able to take the tragedy? Will Pawan be able to forgive himself if his parents died of shock?