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A Fragile Life


Note:- This article was written by me in March 2020 in preparation for posting some fresh articles on this website which was then under construction, but like all other things, the construction too got stuck in unexpected Lock Down and got inordinately delayed.

A Fragile Life

Ever since the outbreak of Corona Virus in China in End of December 2019, the tiny infectious agent of death that can only replicate itself inside a living cell has terrorized the whole world.

“Since Dmitri Ivanovsky’s 1892 article describing a non-bacterial pathogen infecting tobacco plants, and the discovery of the tobacco mosaic virus by Martinus Beijerinck in 1898,about 5,000 virus species have been described in detail, of the millions of types of viruses in the environment. Viruses are found in almost every ecosystem on Earth and are the most numerous type of biological entity.

While not inside an infected cell or in the process of infecting a cell, viruses exist in the form of independent particles, or virions, consisting of: (i) the genetic material, i.e. long molecules of DNA or RNA that encode the structure of the proteins by which the virus acts; (ii) a protein coat, the capsid, which surrounds and protects the genetic material; and in some cases (iii) an outside envelope of lipids. The shapes of these virus particles range from simple helical and icosahedral forms to more complex structures. Most virus species have virions too small to be seen with an optical microscope, about one hundredth the size of most bacteria”.


The above para has been include, to check the functioning of the feature of posting links and references on this site


That is too much of technical jargon and it’s not my idea to copy paste the whole article from Wikipedia here. I had undertaken the effort to put my brain cells in to action so that my thoughts start flowing in to smooth streams like I want them to, while writing.  Most often, when a thought occurs to me and I am sitting at the computer but doing something other than writing, then I jot it down, giving it a title followed by a few lines, save it as a new Word document and leave it that.

It is different from the chits on which I used to write down my thoughts in the days when working with computers hadn’t caught up. The world has become technologically advanced but the problems of the writers continue to be the same. One of those is that if you don’t put the thought down then and there when it comes, it is lost for good. There is no way of getting them recorded…wait a minute, I haven’t tried the service of Alexa or Siri for this, but all in all there is some charm to the whole process of putting your thoughts down by yourself than giving a dictation to a secretary.

“Penning the down the thoughts” is the phrase that aptly describes the process. One, may argue that when the phrase was coined, the computers weren’t invented. Yes, and for years after having an access to the computer, I would still put my thoughts on paper. And they are still there, I haven’t gone through those notes and diaries where I put them. I have the desire and you may not believe me if I say that it is going to be a gigantic task for me literally and figuratively too. True, all that I have written might be less than what one may find in the pocket diary of Corrin Tollado who according to Wikipedia wears the crown of being the most prolific writer. She is said to have published more than 5000 titles and sold 400 million books during her career span. As she was born in 1927, I believe that most of it was hand written unless she was a fantastic typist too.

Corrin Tollado- A Prolific Writer

I do not know what was the thought, when I wrote this heading and saved it as a file but, I feel blessed to have the ability to resurrect the thought and now since the thoughts have started flowing let me put some effort to reconstruct the article conforming to the Title “ A Fragile Life”. I have checked and found that the first version of this file which means the title was created on 5th of March which means that the pervading thought was Corona virus, Oh, No, now I remember, it wasn’t about Corona virus because that had been around for almost three months.

On 5th of March when I got up in the morning and came down from my bedroom, my wife told me that the son of our neighbours who live across the street from us, had passed away the previous night. She said that she was woken up by the loud cries and when she inquired about the source, she came to know of the sudden death of child who had turned twenty one a few months ago. I was surprised to hear the news. Though Corona virus was much in the news and the cases of imported infection were being regularly reported in the newspapers but, India had not even put the thermal scanning at the airports in place yet. The were no cases in Chandigarh yet, though the news of some Corona Positive people, having the infection having been cleared at the airports because of lack of screening arrangements in place were being regularly making the news, but all this was happening in the distant south India. This young boy, who had recently joined the Engineering college, hadn’t even gone out of the town.

I had seen the boy only once when his father was reversing the car to take him to the school. It was almost a year ago. Nobody knew if he was suffering from some disease. Some bits of information started coming from all the neighbours, who also knew little about the family, because they had brought this property only a few years ago. Our next door neighbour told my wife that the boy wasn’t very good at studies and his mother had said that she will arrange to get him extra coaching for pulling through. This information was to further the unmentioned thought of a possible suicide now making rounds in whispers in all the neighbourhood.

As I said, the news had come from, our neighbours next door, whose grandson is in the final year in the same Engineering college in which the boy had taken the admission, a thought occurred to me that he might have flunked in a subject or two in his first semester in the Engineering college. Since I was also an Engineering student once, I am aware of the nuisance value of getting what is known as a “Supplee” or a “Re”. It is something that every engineering student dreads and every student except the top a few gets. One can carry the back log of the subjects of one semester in which he/she fails to the next semester and then next until the last year, the baggage for some, keeps getting heavier till it becomes so heavy that it brings them down from the final year to the first one. Scary, Isn’t it? But there were students if we should call them by this noun, with us too, who took as many as seven years to complete their four years degree course and there were many more who left it in between. The added bit of information true or made up was that the boy was under depression.

That gave rise to the speculation that the boy might have committed suicide after failing in the first semester. Immediately we started condemning the parents for being over ambitious and in a sweeping statement condemned all those who push their children over the hill. We weren’t any different when our children were doing college, but fortunately for them and us, nothing untoward happened and they could complete the courses they scored enough to get admitted in to. Whether what they ended up doing was really what they intended to do or what we wanted them to do wasn’t discussed, after they got admitted in the colleges which were not of their choosing and not of our liking either, but they were reputed enough to give them respectable degrees, if they could pull through and they did.

It’s true that all of us want our children to clear JEE, the joint entrance examination held for admission to the Engineering college or NEET which is the national level entrance exam for getting admission in the medical college. Every child can’t do that and the pressure on the children is tremendous, but parents don’t understand this and they think that if the child of the neighbours can do it then why can’t their child do it. We had finished our morning tea when the someone rang our bell. All the women of the neighbourhood had decided to go to sit with the bereaved family and get to know a bit more about what happened.

I had finished my bath when my wife returned. During commiseration, wails, ululations, sobs and occasional screams on entrance of fresh charge of acquaintances, a constant stream of which kept pouring in, the neighbouring women had learnt that the child had died of a heart attack. So, it wasn’t a suicide then. Anger slowly started getting displaced by sympathy, but suspicion lingered. The parents had been absolved for the sin they were thus far being condemned for. The child, it was learnt had some existing complications and he couldn’t pass urine. His parents took him to a private hospital in the adjacent sector where the doctors tried to put him on dialysis, but he died of heart failure. Too many questions remained unanswered. Why the parents took him to a private hospital while a major hospital was nearly as close? Why the doctors tried to put him on dialysis when there was a blockage in his urinary track which supposedly was because of a kidney stone?

While living in the heart of the town that has excellent medical facilities, why it took them so long to provide the child help that his vital organs failed? That was the question, pounding our minds. We also came to know, that no postmortem was done and that raised our suspicion about cause of death. Why there was no police at the scene? Implausible, it all seemed to be, but there was no one to answer. The body of a young boy, barely out of his teens was consigned to flames in the afternoon and all was over for the people in the neighbourhood.  Nobody ever thought, how difficult it will be for the young parents to live with the loss for the rest of their lives. The frail, petite sister who apparently was a few years younger to him, showed signs of having run out of tears as she stood like a statue, engulfed in a stony silence. Speechless people, one by one filed passed the bereaved family that had lined up with folded hands to thank the them for coming to condole.

The fear of Corona virus had not spread around till then otherwise there would have been medical teams of all descriptions there to investigate. As I said, even the mechanism of thermal scanning of the people landing at the airports hadn’t yet been put in place, it was too early for the administration to suspect a boy with no travel history to have been contracted Covid-19, so swab samples were also not taken after his death.

Reaction to Corona Spread in March 2020

The kind of scare that this virus has caused all over the globe is unprecedented. The mayhem in the stock market has been going on since last week and even the most dependable stocks are plummeting. Philippines has shut down the stock market which allegedly has fallen because of the speculation of Corona virus bringing the doom to the world, but I see it as a metaphor. The virus has indeed infected the world economic market but for now let’s forget about that. Life is more important than money, but for now nobody is thinking, what will happen, if the Global market crashed? Is it possible to live without money? There’s a total panic in Europe and America. The people are stocking up, as if they may not get another chance to buy the things, without caring for others who might be in urgent need of very essential items like, medicines and baby food. Sanitizers and toiletries have disappeared from the shelves the departmental stores. Grocery, food items and articles of daily use are literally vanishing from the stores. So severe is the panic that certain stores have allocated special hours for the elderly.

But in this madness, has anyone stopped to think about the fragility of life? Europe hasn’t seen such deaths since the holocaust. Italy doesn’t know how to handle it and Spain and France have almost put the whole population under house arrest. Americans, Australians, Canadians and the New-Zealanders have never seen it, but it is nothing new to the poor countries where multiple deaths is not a news. Where people deal with the question of existence on day to day basis. As compared to other viruses like SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu etc. this one is mild. It kills but the mortality rate is less than 2 %. More people die in the poor countries every day because of hunger, malnutrition, lack of hygiene, medical assistance, terror and even territorial disputes.

Earth in comparison with other Planets in our Solar System

While bombing Syria and Iraq, I bet the Americans never had the time to reflect upon their own vulnerability. The dread this tiny Proteins and Nucleic acid composition has spread through the Homo Sapiens is unfathomable while the rest of the creatures are simply oblivious to this. As far as the God is concerned for Him, even the earth on which we live is as insignificant as a tiny speck of dust and that truly is our position in the cosmos. So, what is there to gloat over?

The child who died on 5th of March, within hours of first show of a problem wasn’t suffering from any illness, but his time on this planet was up. The precious life gets snuffed out off people in seconds and yet there are millions who wish to die, but don’t, they can’t because there time to go hasn’t come yet. There are those who, consume poison, set themselves on fire, get severely injured in accidents and even when there’s no hope that they will survive, they live to tell their stories. There are people who, come to life even after having been pronounced dead by the doctors. There are people who file petitions for euthanasia which get rejected, they try to commit suicides, but don’t die because the messengers of death don’t have the orders to take them away yet.

Pani kera budbuda, As manas ki jaat

Dekhat hi chhip jayega, jayon sara parbhat.

Kabir said, that the man is like a bubble of water. Will disappear within a wink, like the morning star. These manifestations of morphed viruses, the bacterial infections which threaten to destroy the whole human race are subtle messages from God to us. We must, sit and reflect upon the purpose of our existence. We must listen to the inner calling that perhaps is the purpose of our creation. At least it gives us the purpose to live and enjoy what we are doing.

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Navneet Bakshi

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Arun Mehra
Arun Mehra(@arunmehra)
1 year ago

We forget our fragility till the next rude jolt from our slumber of vanity, only to forget again till the next one. And the cycle goes on and on.

Chander Kiran
Chander Kiran(@chander-kiran)
1 year ago

Very well written article…God bless you and your pen

1 year ago

I am speechless reading this blog.
The thoughts that rush into one’s mind are unfathomable.
Death is cruel…but there are no “whys” here.
Death is predestined! The “ooperwaala” sends everyone with the stamp of “expiry date”. Some live long and some die young ! Ultimately, it is FATE!!!!!

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