The Recovered Untouchables
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
“Blank thoughts, wrapped in a wet blanket of irrelevance Important things have long been grey matter buried since...”
The clock was showing nine on a humid June morning when Anjali left for work. It had been a week since she had left her house and was feeling more than ready to get back to doing her job.
Making her way through the heavy traffic, which took her an hour to do, Anjali finally reached the hospital. She was a forty-two-year-old doctor who had been working day in and day out ever since the pandemic hit the country. It was while treating one of her patients that she had caught the virus, and was hospitalized herself. She was released only two weeks ago and had been quarantined since. It had not been easy.
Being a victim of a pandemic is stressful: socially, and physically.
Coming home COVID free was not as happy, or celebratory a situation as she had expected. Her family was definitely relieved about her coming back safe and sound, but it was not exactly the case with her neighbors. They were extremely wary of her and, if ever, she happened to be buying groceries at the same time as one of them, they shot her looks that could make even an angel feel despicable. It seemed like they had forgotten how she had caught the disease. It did not matter that she was a doctor. It didn't matter that she might have been the one to treat them if they caught it. All that mattered was their paranoia and insensitivity. But it was finally time for her to be back: helping people and saving lives.
Having entered the hospital, Anjali went to see the schedule for the day, but couldn’t see her name anywhere on the list. 'Weird', she thought to herself, 'I had informed them that I would be joining back today'.
She approached the receptionist to ask what the problem was. “Hey! I don’t see my name anywhere in the schedule. Maybe there is a mix-up?” the receptionist seemed a little uncomfortable, and told her that there was no problem with the list and that it was exactly as it was supposed to be.
“But if there is no problem, then why do I not see my name on it? I informed the hospital about my being here days before.”
“Uhm, I am really sorry, but we can’t let you back on the job just yet.” He said.
Anjali was extremely confused and asked him the reason for that. He told her that because she had recently been diagnosed with the disease, the hospital was not comfortable with the other medical staff being exposed to her. Anjali was shocked. She had not expected to be treated like that, especially not in a hospital. She tried to reason with the receptionist and told him that, because she had completely recovered, she was not a danger to those around her. But the receptionist just told her that there was nothing he could do and that this was a decision taken by his seniors. This left Anjali with no other choice than to leave. She was completely stunned by the condescension and ignorance shown by the hospital and thought of all those patients who had to face discrimination due to this.
If medically educated individuals behaved this way, what could possibly be the scenario in situations where people know nothing about the virus?