Khekiye K. Sema IAS (Retd)
Thilixu Village, Dimapur
The dormant faculty of our mind gets rudely shaken awake when destiny drives us to a helpless depths of despair and solitude. It is then that we realise how much we take our lives for granted. We often perfunctorily thank the Good Lord in our routine daily family prayers perhaps but forget to truly count the intimate Blessings that God Almighty has so abundantly graced each of our personal lives in so many indescribable ways. I recently had the misfortune, which I now term as an opportunity, of going through one such desperate experience. In that silent solitude of a cabin in Referral Hospital I opened this chapter of my life that had been less visited and felt so totally wanting. Be that as it may, He salvaged me yet again from the abyss of certain disaster that I was headed towards after I had contracted COVID-19 infection on 15th October 2020 while attending the 'consultation meeting on Naga Political issue' at Kohima.
A friend, who had accompanied me the whole day on this fateful day of the meeting, called me up on 17th October evening with a troubling news that he had voluntarily gone for a COVID-19 infection test and was unfortunately confirmed 'positive'. He had the sense of responsibility to thereafter, promptly ring me up to suggest that I too do a quick check up. Up to this point of time I was feeling perfectly normal without any symptom of discomfort whatsoever. This simple news however, hit my family like a hurricane from the blues. My immediate thought was not very much on weather I too was infected. It was taken as granted. I was more gripped by a cold shiver down my spine thinking: "have I already passed on the infection to my entire family members, with an ominous concern for my two and a half years old grandson? OMG! My eldest son joined me in the rush down to Zion Hospital but by that late hour, the counter had closed down for the day. We were advised to come early the next morning, which we did. The 'Truenat COVID-19' test result for both I and my son, who also decided to go through the process to be certain, was got two hours later. We both were confirmed 'positive', with a consolation note (that hardly consoled us) that it was a mild infection. My son and I immediately went into home quarantine mode on receipt of the confirmation on 18th October. The next urgent exercise that had to be carried out was to have the whole household tested. CMO Dimapur Civil Hospital was informed and under the contact tracing programme, their fully equipped mobile team promptly came home in their ambulance and took the samples of my entire family members and working staffs on 18th of October. It was the most suspenseful three long days of waiting for the results. They all turned out 'negative', including my grandson! What a huge relief! I was now ready to face the music in whichever way it was played.
Meanwhile the symptom of slight temperature was now beginning to creep in during the evening hours by the 20st October with mild signs of body discomfort which became more accentuated. By 22nd October it was more than apparent that we were travelling towards the deep end of the infection and therefore decided that a more dedicated treatment was necessary. My son and I got admitted to the Referral Hospital, Dimapur the same evening. Being a senior citizen, the management graciously allotted me a small cabin but my son had to stay exposed in the general ward. This worried me a great deal but there was no other option available. Thereafter, we went through almost three harrowing weeks of battling with this deadly virus, having a steady running temperature and coughing that caused immense discomfort to the already congested chest which also painfully straining the whole body. There were few patients next door, vociferously coughing their guts out and laboriously fighting for their breath with so much difficulty. 'Breathing' is a subconscious mechanism that we pay no attention to when we are well. But it is in such a moment when you start having breathing difficulties that realisation hits you sharply that this unmindful act of inhaling and exhaling is the ultimate definition between staying alive or dying...that we take for granted so unmindfully. It seems like a lesson in gratitude is being imparted through this virus as a rude reminder to the forgetful 'breathers' on earth.
Every hour the nurses diligently monitored our status...temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, sugar level et al. They ensured that I was having tonnes of antibiotic and every other conceivable tablet as prescribed by the Doctors...more in quantity than my tasteless breakfast or dinner. Every time the home front asks what we would like to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner, my son and I would grimace. Apatite was absolutely out of tune with our initial declining condition. We were feeling lightheaded and unsteady on our feet with energy steadily being drained out of our system all the time.
In moments such as this, our weary thoughts go wandering into unchartered territories where everything seemed so hopelessly gloomy and meaningless. It left me in deep contemplation about life, family and the kind of heartless society we are living in, devoid of true Christian love and compassion. As I wrestled with this uncomfortable solitude and boredom, in the quiet cabin of the Referral Hospital in Dimapur, I casually browsed the internet and chanced upon some gospel music. It was then that I came across a soul stirring song sung by a physically challenged individual from 'The Jake Squad' and also by Jeff & Sheri Easter...that brought tears into my eyes. It was perhaps my most vulnerable moment of despair in quite a while. At that instant moment of complete solitude the only sound that kept ringing in my ears over and over again was their soothing melody that said, "Thank You, Lord for Your Blessings on me". The lyric was so profoundly meaningful and powerfully simple...in complete contrast with today's world which has gone mad in search of wealth and power and comforts of life above all else so much so that we have forgotten to spend even a quiet moment of calm meditation each day to really Thank The Good Lord for all the blessings we have received...like good health that we take for granted for instance. And I feel compelled to share the lyric with our readers. It goes like this:
While the world looks upon me, as I struggle alone
And they say I have nothing, but they are so wrong
In my heart I'm rejoicing, how I wish they could see
Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me
There's a roof up above me, I've a good place to sleep
There's food on my table, and shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord, and a fine family
Thank You Lord for your Blessings on me;
I know I am not wealthy, and these clothing's not new
And I don't have much money, But Lord I have You
And that's all that matters, though the world may not see
(And I) Thank You Lord for Your blessings on me
This is exactly how a true believer ought to feel, no matter what the circumstance...rich or poor. We may not have anything that the world wants...but each one of us does know what the world needs...starting with ourselves...stretching a compassionate hand to help those less fortunate than us with a giving heart that truly cares. This world would have been so different if we were all able to even remotely live it that way.
The pursuit of happiness will always remain the primary quest of mankind on planet earth from the day we are born...till the day we die...to find that kind of perpetual security that would cater to our everyday living comforts and conveniences. How we go about acquiring this end makes all the difference that brings out the best in us or the worst. As Christians, we ought to believe that the final answer of finding that true happiness lies in our resolve to absorb a moral conviction which unquestioningly places our complete trust in The Good Lord with all of our heart and soul and allowing Him to direct our path. Everything would eventually fall in place thereafter...for those who believe. Such was the filtered thought that floated across my mind in these lonely hours of trial. I quietly thanked the Good Lord for momentarily directing my thoughts to glimpse His wondrous world of peace and comfort.
The greater part for sharing my thought today was to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Doctors and the nurses in Referral Hospital, Dimapur, from the bottom of my heart, who selflessly took care of me with such committed dedication round the clock knowingly placing them in the frontline without a sign of fear of exposure that they constantly worked under. The same sense of gratitude towards the mobile team of the CMO's establishment for promptly answering the call to have my family tested. It takes great courage and dedication on their part to be doing what they are doing day in and day out. I sincerely thank the Good Lord for people like them still bravely standing by to willingly help those in need and consoling the weary souls fighting for their very survival. I would also like to reach out to all our people out there and remind them that this deadly virus is for real and should not be taken lightly. Social distancing and wearing mask should strictly be adhered to, if not for others, then at least for your own wellbeing.
Finally, I thank the Good Lord for His blessings on me...and for making whole again.