There was a healing touch in my vaccination drive
India is still reeling in the aftermath of the colossally calamitous second wave of the COVID 19 pandemic. Almost everyone is now contending with losses. While some have lost loved ones, many others have lost livelihoods. Indeed a pall of gloom has enveloped all our spirits at some level or the other and the breakthrough to sunshine has not fully happened yet.
Also in the past six months, while teeming millions of people had contracted the virus exposing the sub optimal scale and preparedness of the country’s health infrastructure, we have all invariably and understandably been part of the blame game crescendo against the authorities.
The collective angst has somewhat been mitigated by the countrywide rollout of vaccination drives. However, this space too had been rife with contention (atleast in the initial weeks and months). While a few people had been apprehensive about taking their jabs (either because they have some chronic health issues or because they are simply suspicious about the efficacy of the vaccine), several others had to clock futile hours before the registration sites or before the information counters of hospitals and government run vaccination to avail a slot.
Around three months ago, I like most of you had been ruminating about these obvious facts and almost concluded that I will not opt for my vaccination. This was partly because I have chronic portal hypertension (and my apprehensions had been bolstered by some unauthorized reports and videos circulating on social media and WhatsApp) and partly and largely because I was experiencing mental fatigue with almost everything connected to COVID 19. To invest arduous hours searching (and registering in) for a centre was not my cup of solace I decided.
It was only when I understood that an unvaccinated person’s body can translate to a veritable ground for future mutations of the virus that I actually consulted a doctor on my chronic health condition and decided to take the jab.
Just when I was thinking of scouting for a hassle free centre to get vaccinated I was apprised of a centre run in my city (Guwahati) by my neighbor, Vikash Maheshwari. The centre is being run by Marwari Sammelan, which is essentially a charitable and social NGO that was established in Mumbai in 1914 by the Rajasthani community. I did a quick background check of the organisation and was impressed by the scale of their practical yeoman service. Particularly, with respect to the ongoing vaccination drive I would say their biggest service has been in vaccinating the poor and the uneducated.
My individual experience (of getting vaccinated at Marwari Sammelan) has been nothing short of heartwarming . Starting from the hassle free registration (I only had to walk into the centre and the registration desk entered my details in a jiffy and efficiently). Within fifteen minutes my swab had been collected and I was ushered in for my jab after a cup of warm adrak chai. The experiences of the day I went for my second dose were the same and some shades warmer as the people in the registration desk remembered me and greeted me familiarly. Infact that day there was a torrential drizzle and after the jab one of the administrators came over and gently cautioned me against stepping out till the rain eased. “Bahar mat jayenge bimaar par jayenge,” was a line that told me when I finally ventured out that there indeed had been a healing and human touch in my vaccination drive.
I must reiterate here that the care and attention I received was not exclusive to me. I could see a sense of ease and satisfaction in the faces of all the other people who had come for their jabs. For one there were no serpentine ques as the beneficiaries were efficiently and systematically split into small groups. Consequently, none had to wait for more than twenty odd minutes (after registration) for their turn. Moreover I could see the slightly apprehensive and anxious expressions of some faces around me melting into smiles as the attendants and administrators assured them.
Before you conclude that this is a rather insipid and routine experience to be written about I hope you do realise that the government would not have been able to vaccinate at such a monumental scale had people like Vikash Maheshwari and organisations like Marwari Sammelan not been extending their help (to the vaccination mission) in their own quiet way. Let us not forget to acknowledge and applaud these good Samaritans.