The dark face of Covid

Distressed parents of their only 25-year-old son, Santhosh Jena was not picking up their call who had fallen sick three days ago before they heard him last on May 7 at 5 p.m…reports N.B. Hombal

With the exponential rise in Covid-19 cases during the second wave of the Covid-19pandemic, Karnataka is also witnessing an increase in the number of deaths. But what is worrisome is dead bodies are found in decomposed condition due to its metropolitan culture, where interaction with neighbours is near zero.

This culture has plunged to another abyss, after the emergence of the Covid pandemic, even our own ‘near and dear ones’ have either become pariahs or treat us one like pariah, after either of us realise that some of us are taken ill.

Covid warrior and software engineer with the TCS, Sathyanarana Roy aka Ruchi Roy’s friend of Odisha’s local channel reporter living in Bengaluru received a call from his home state Odisha on May 12 at around 4 p.m. Distressed parents of their only 25-year-old son, Santhosh Jena was not picking up their call who had fallen sick three days ago before they heard him last on May 7 at 5 p.m.

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a teacher for COVID-19 test at a school in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sept. 14, 2020. After a consistent drop in new cases, the Pakistani government has announced to reopen educational institutes in phases from Sept. 15. (Str/Xinhua/IANS)

According to Roy, after receiving the call along with his friend working with media, Gobind Barik reached Koodlugate in Parappana Agrahara police limits. What they saw was this young man sitting on chair under the ceiling fan had died three or four days ago and his body had already started decomposing that too with his limbs started dislocating.

Roy said that the parents had tried their best to reach out their son though few relatives and fellow villagers who work in Bengaluru to know about Jena’s wellbeing, but none had come to their rescue and only then they had taken help of their village head, who though some of his political contacts came to know about Gobind Barik working in Bengaluru.

Roy said that Jena’s parents were not even aware about his whereabouts like where he stays or where he worked in Bengaluru and none could blame them as they are from a very remote village of Bhadrak district in Odisha, which is around 1,980 km from this tech-hub.

“They were dependent on Jena for their survival in their village. Even to reach us they had taken help from their village head’s (Sarpanch) help, who somehow knew that a reporter (Gobind Barik) of local channel of Odisha works here,” Roy said.

Roy said that the irony of this episode is that the deceased house owner who stays nearby and few neighbours who lived here were not even aware that Jena was dead and the owner even insisted that Jena was not in the house and left his bike here and perhaps left Bengaluru due to imposition of partial lockdown on April 27.

“Somehow, we both (Gobind and me) sensed that something was a miss. Then we sought his permission to see his room, which was on the third floor of the building. When we reached his room, his room was locked from inside, and then we saw from the window, realised that he was no more,” the Covid warrior explained.

Then Roy approached Parappana Agarahara police, who immediately came with him and broke open the door and recovered the dead.

“The police informed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike authorities who came with an ambulance conducted Covid test on the deceased and it was found that the deceased was Covid positive. The BBMP officials did take good care as the first ambulance which they had dispatched did not have experienced staff to wrap the decomposed body. So, the BBMP rushed another team of experts who are specialised in handling decomposed bodies like the Jena’s, whose limbs had started falling apart,” Roy explained.

When Roy broke the story of Jena’s death through Sarpanch’s phone, the parents had fainted and were admitted to hospital and they were wailing inconsolably as they felt that they could not even take part in the last rites of their only son and lone earning member of their family.

New Delhi: Health workers wearing PPE suits and treatment for COVID-19 positive patient admit in Emergency Covid-19 care center by Delhi Government at Shahnai banquet Hall in front of LNJP hospital in New Delhi on Thursday April 15th, 2021.(Photo:Wasim Sarvar/IANS)

Roy poignantly reminded that nowadays, many people are less interested in maintaining any friendly relation with their neighbours.

“The face to face interaction and the sense of brotherhood have been diminishing since the emergence of sophisticated life and hi-tech culture. That is where we are finding such dead bodies often in cities like Bengaluru. For this city is not to be blamed, we, the people must take responsibility for reaching out to our neighbours and keeping in touch with them. Cities like Bengaluru provide us an ample opportunity for employment, but after coming to this city, we people should also need to contribute by keeping our neighbourhood vibrant,” he signed off.

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