The scent of fresh toast whipped with margarine pierces through the walls of his bedroom. He paces towards the dining hall as he double checks the hurtling time on his ticking watch. His dearest daughter sets the table with his wife, the former hoping to share a meal with her father. Yet he yawns, his eyes slackening from the continuous work he exerts. He picks up two slices of toast and a coffee cup, and then rushes off to the highway, where a vehicle has been waiting for him: the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) shuttle which will ferry him and other co-workers to the various hospitals they are affiliated with.
Merely gobbling on his “breakfast”, he steps out of the shuttle. The whiteness of the edifice in front almost blinds him, but what’s inside of the building opposes the bright pretense. He gears up: booties wrapping his foot, a long blue gown, hefty N95 mask coupled with a face shield, hair cover and then gloves. He sanitizes to and fro, in every inch of his body. He walks onward armed with three totems: isopropyl, varied knowledge, and spiritual courage.
He begins his shift. He walks to the first patient, wrapped in the extensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). He undertakes what may be the easiest part of the day, interrogation. Travel history, contact with PUI’s and PUM’s, he scribbles them down on lengthy documents. Then, he inserts a long stick with a soft brush on the end, up the patient’s nose and twirls it around for a few seconds. Dubbed as the “nasal swab”, the soft bristles will collect a sample of secretions that’ll help in analysis. He could sense that some patients felt pain. He did too, as his body needs rest already; each bone yearning moments of solitude. No, he has to work further. He sanitizes again, then steps over to the ICU.
Walking on the hallway frightens him already. He chose to do this, right? Wasn’t this, as some in the legislature would assert, “his job”, his occupation as a medical professional? This is more than a career. This was his duty – a dreadful duty. Every day, he encounters couples with frantic looks video chatting with each other. A devout child in the corner praying fervently, wishing even for a slight miracle. Others, welling with tears, comforted only by relatives.
He checks the room number. 208. A farmer, both a husband and a father. Diagnosed a week ago – his health drastically deteriorating. The farmer’s wife is calling, and he overhears the two converse. They have few quantities left: few coins in the purse, few supplies back home, few hope.
He tries his best, beyond the capabilities he is taught throughout tertiary education. He monitors the vital signs, he checks the depleting oxygen levels. He imposes a nasal cannula, the excruciating tube that’s placed in the nostrils to deliver oxygen. He administers intravenous fluids to support the barely functioning heart. Every time the dying person in front of him severely coughs or skips a beat, his mind jogs into every plausible option.
He wants to save everyone, anyone capable of being saved. He fails. The viral disease was malignant already. He calls the wife. He hears hysterical shrieks, sobs, and wails. Curses, even. Some directed towards his withering mindset.
It isn’t over. He rushes to the medical tents. After the most lengthy sanitation anyone on Earth may receive, he gets to gobble on a slice of fish and utilize the comfort room. Lunch time was short. He had to put on the aching costume again, and while co-workers take selfies and TikToks of their “power rangers” outfit, he disproves romanticizing resilience. He knows he needs the government’s help, who refuses to lend a hand to such a significantly negligible professional as him.
Room 317. An old grandmother wheezing. The cruelty of nature is swelling in her. High-pitched croaks, panting, gasping – it all led to a solemn departure. He can’t save her either. Kinsfolk lined up outside, demanding a reasonable explanation. Their faces, colored with disdain and melancholy. Their fury was soon shrouded with grief.
The thought of an endeared one dying, it haunted him. Every night he came home, he’d send flying kisses to his child while walking in the “Quarantine Lane” so that he could take a shower and finally, wholly embrace his family. His persevering wife, whose optimistic eyes are set toward a brighter tomorrow, would’ve prepared him a hearty meal already. The gory thought of him getting infected, getting hospitalized, it simply shouldn’t happen. Yet this wasn’t about him. It’s about those he wants to save, and those he failed to save.
The most heartbreaking part isn’t seeing the fact that you’re losing. It’s knowing that you’ve lost and that you need to rise up. He walks back, ears sore as the mask loop had dug in his ears. He sees the child, still praying with hope unswerving. Sitting next to him, he does the same. He prays for resolution. He prays for tomorrow. He prays for the might to go on, for the bravery to stand strong against all odds.
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