‘A Year Of Pandemic: First Came Setback, Then Fightback’

Lopamudra, a 28-year-old architect in Ranchi, recounts the hardships and the lessons that one year of Coronavirus brought into her life

What a year 2020-21 has been! I came to Ranchi as a new bride in 2018, with big dreams and a desire to make a name in the field of architecture. I am a freelance architect, which means I work on project-to-project basis.

So, here I was in 2018, taking baby steps towards building a home and a career at the same time. Barely two years into work, in March-end 2020 the pandemic was officially announced, and I wondered what our future would be like! When would the pandemic be over? Would we able to pay our rent? How would construction sector be impacted?

As it turned out, the infrastructure/construction sector was one of the worst affected. It all came to a standstill and labourers started packing off to their villages or hometowns in droves. Since my husband was also employed in the infrastructure sector, it meant a double hit for us.

Apart from not being able to get any new work, our continuing projects also stopped in the lockdown. For nearly three months (March-June) there was no income; we managed with our savings. And we kept praying that neither of us should contract coronavirus.

ALSO READ: ‘In Initial Days, Doctors Lost Sense Of Time’

We decided not to lose heart and take each day at a time. We started learning new aspects of our work by watching YouTube and also took to reading more on architecture, construction and infrastructure. To keep the stress away, I picked up photography and tried capturing beautiful things around us from the terrace during lockdown. It taught me to be positive.

The lockdown was the most difficult period to say the least, as nothing moved in those three months. Even when the phased unlock began rolling out, the scenario was shaky and the future uncertain. No one was undertaking big projects and most migrant labourers still hadn’t made their way back. Figuring out new clients for new projects seemed like an uphill task.

We started networking with people new and old. We had also worked a lot on our communication skills (both verbal and written) and thus armed with new confidence we started doing the rounds. Another month went past without a project, but I finally found one in August.

ALSO READ: ‘Proud To Be Part Of Vaccination Drive’

A little window of hope opened from there and we started rebuilding our lives bit by bit. It has been six months since life gave us a second chance and we are using that chance to the fullest. To say that we have become financially wiser would be an understatement. We now know a lot more about funds, investment plans and policies than ever before. Now my husband and I shop wisely, manage resources skilfully, we keep ourselves in good health, we take all Covid precautions and restrictions seriously and we communicate with each other a lo

A good, attentive partner means you can weather any storm, even that of being without any income for nearly 3 months. People save for a rainy day, last year was like one whole rainy year for so many of us. Financial planning is the need of the hour

‘In Initial Days Of Covid-19, Doctors Lost Sense Of Time’

Dr Arista Lahiri, 31, Sr Resident (Epidemiology) at College Of Medicine & Sagor Dutta Hospital in Kolkata, recounts how healthcare professionals battled the unknown virus and why we can’t let the guard down even now

I was fresh out of medical school when the pandemic struck. Even though my field of study was community medicine and thus I was well-versed with the incidence, spread and possible control of diseases during an epidemic/pandemic, yet nothing had prepared us for a crisis of such epic proportions that affected the whole world.

I was posted at the District Hospital in 24 Parganas (North) and had gone to another city to attend a medical conference in January 2020 when coronavirus began to be discussed seriously. Wuhan was already reeling under its impact and slowly the medical fraternity across the world had begun to realise that the virus was soon going to spread much, much farther than China.

In March-end, when the pandemic was officially declared in India, I dedicated myself completely to fighting the unknown virus. We were a four-member team doing 24×7 surveillance of both active as well as potential cases to target and isolate. We were doing everything from data entry to helping Covid patients get admission in hospitals to occasionally going out in the fields to see how the situation was panning out.

ALSO READ: ‘I Delivered My Child Amid Pandemic’

For two-three months we had no sense of time, putting in every hour of work that we could and going home only to sleep. We had no life outside work for those several months and no outlet to unwind. We just kept each other motivated and in good spirits.

Dr Lahiri says battling the virus is not the job of healthcare professionals alone

I was myself scared of the contagion; there were so many people suffering around us. Each day, I pulled myself up and marched on stronger. My parents were extremely supportive and understood my duty as a medical professional.

While the rest of the country was facing only Covid, nature dealt a double blow to West Bengal: cyclone Amphan. I am quite happy with the way our state government handled the crisis. The entire state machinery from the primary to district to state-level worked in tandem. Post-Amphan, there was a shifting of roles and responsibilities and I was asked to be a member of the Covid State Cell in Kolkata in June end.

ALSO READ: ‘Proud To Be A Part Of Vaccination Drive’

We had all learnt better by then and were able to streamline our work better. The workload eased off just a tiny bit, though we were still checking in hundreds and hundreds of patients each day. One thing I was happy about was that I was now living with my parents in Kolkata.

Since then I have been working in Kolkata itself doing 12 hour shifts every day. Between my work as faculty at the College of Medicine and my work at the Sagordutta Hospital, I have to travel nearly 40 kms each day. We cannot afford to slack off even now, though we can relax a bit.

Battling the pandemic isn’t the job of frontline healthcare workers alone. Community medicine is all about a community’s adherence to rules. Even though vaccines have been developed, we need to understand that new strains of the virus might still take over. So masks, sanitizing and social distancing are still our best bets against the virus! I got both my vaccine shots, but I still take all the precautions.