Life in a Containment Zone

“Never had I imagined that an obnoxious virus would be welcomed in my village, presumably since it normally has a wider spread in urban areas”, said one quinquagenarian, who was a primary contact of a person who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the Budang GPU, a tiny village under Soreng Sub-Division, West Sikkim. When […] The post Life in a Containment Zone appeared first on The Sikkim Chronicle - Sikkim News.

Life in a Containment Zone

“Never had I imagined that an obnoxious virus would be welcomed in my village, presumably since it normally has a wider spread in urban areas”, said one quinquagenarian, who was a primary contact of a person who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the Budang GPU, a tiny village under Soreng Sub-Division, West Sikkim.

When a salesman was tested positive on 24th July, his swift reminder turned out to be illusory optimism. Luckily, by the time the COVID patient started developing mild symptoms, most of his contacts were already informed and the process of self-quarantining had begun but soon our apprehension was further escalated when the result of the Rapid Antigen of salesman’s wife came out as positive on 25th July.

We were blindsided by the news. Nobody had anticipated the repercussion of living in a containment zone, that too at a time when agriculture and paddy cultivation was at its peak. The news of containment was like a seasonal break-up call with nature/greenery and rice production.

So the Breakup call paved the way for a restriction regarding the ingress and egress as important medical precautions and strict safety norms were to be followed. With fear of the virus looming over the community, everyone was silent.

Never had the locals undergone such a dilemma in their lifetime as they did when our village was declared a containment zone on 24th July. Soon, the local WhatsApp group “Malidang Ekta Sangh” bustled so actively that every information and news concerning the village broke out first in this group.

‘Malidang Ekta Sangh’ became a window to the villagers where dreaded information was passed, positive assurances were shared, problems identified and quick solutions found.

Then came a flurry of questions. Some of them were concerned if they would be allowed to go out if they aren’t any primary or secondary contacts, if not, then who would deliver the essential items? Even questions regarding discharging domestic chores like looking after their paddy and domestic animals etc arose.

However, this question remains unaddressed despite a categorical direction regarding the delivery of essential rations, but still, people found solace in living in an open-air prison, thriving in the self-reliant rural economy.

Paranoia grew with fear and a majority of people began complaining of mild fever, headache and uneasiness in their throat. Scepticism engulfed optimism, our trials and tribulation did not end there.

The COVID-19 virus got so ruthless that it enjoyed joining hands with the first patient’s wife and their 9-year-old kid. As their neighbour, since I lived within 500 mts, I closely tracked their health but to my surprise, before his wife and daughter were tested positive and were admitted to a hospital in Gangtok since the development of symptoms was similar to that of the husband and father.

Now, two children were taken to Gangtok and the parents were left in Geyzing for treatment. As residents of the same village, we could sense the pain and deprivation of parental love in these trying times.

Luckily, with the generous help from the CMO, Soreng and the benevolent approach of CP Sharma (Press Advisor) the children got the opportunity to get parental love by shifting them with their parents. I could sense that the pain became lighter.

On the other hand, the delayed sanitization activity irked the villagers. I had to pen down a long letter to the Soreng SDM requesting him to expedite the process of sanitization in the residence of the COVID-19 patient and the local shop visited by the patient.

However, this problem was also sorted out by the CLC President Binod Basnet and his team wherein they voluntarily under the SDM’s instruction decided to raise their helping hand.

With this, all the headache and agony was put to rest when the result via RTPCR was announced, and a much-anticipated sigh of relief was sensed when all the results tested negative. The 18 days of containment zone certainly was adversity but on the other hand, it was also a moment of opportunity for all of us to introspect and contemplate ways to find solutions in these difficult times.

Finally, on 8th August the much-anticipated order de-notifying the containment zone was shared by Padam Chhetri, a forest officer on a WhatsApp group, bringing relief not only to Budang GPU but also to Timberbong GPU and Sangku Radu Khandu GPU under Dentam Block.

containment zone

So while we began to get back the hang of things, the partial status quo is now restored and every one cooped up in their houses got a chance to buy their essentials from two shops of our locality run by Hem Kumar Niroula and Bikash Pradhan. Children also found joy in getting their candy and cocoa.

Above all, everyone has learned to live a frugal way of life in such a situation of doom and gloom. We acknowledge the contribution of the health care workers, police, forest officials for guarding our boundaries.

By Pramit Chettri. The author is an Advocate who hails from Malbassey, Budang village under Soreng Sub-Division, West Sikkim and is currently practising law before the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court. He can be contacted via his email id pramitchhetri@gmail.com.

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