RAVI RANJAN GOSWAMI
To Doctors, Nurses, Sweepers, Policemen, and all other frontline Corona warriors.
Once upon a time, it was a dream, but now interplanetary travel has become a routine affair and people go on holidays to different planets. The moon and Mars have been developed into humans' colonies by scientists from the earth.
Several other planets have been found with aliens living there and they also like to visit Earth from time to time.
The aliens found some practices followed by the people of earth quite strange and funny. They keep a 1-meter distance from everybody whether humans or aliens and washed their hands very often for a reason or no reason.
Also, they keep their faces always covered.
Old fashioned people wear bamboo wheels in their waist, which has a radius of I meter so that people remain at a distance from them. They call it a corona belt and the face mask or cover is called Corona face cover. A variety of belts and face covers are available in the market, of different qualities, designs, and prices. People have made gradations in the belts and face covers. By the quality of these articles, one can guess the social and economic status of a person, who is wearing them. Most people don't know why the face cover or mask is called corona cover and the belt is called Corona belt and why they wear these articles. Some contemporary leaders and social reformers consider wearing these articles bad customs and of elitist nature. It is like the practice of untouchability of ancient times
AN AMBULANCE DRIVER
Ramesh was earning a lot of money. He did not consider himself less than a VIP. People used to walk behind him. They used to beg his favor and give him thousands of rupees. He was the driver of a private ambulance in Delhi and also a broker of ambulance vehicles.
The second wave of the corona epidemic in India came as fiercer than the first wave. Even the medical system of the country was proving to be inadequate. Somewhere in the hospitals' patients were not getting beds. There was a shortage of oxygen needed for the serious covid patient. Several patients died due to a lack of oxygen. There was turmoil in the country.
Ramesh's ambulance was equipped with oxygen and he was charging five to ten times the fixed fare for transporting Covid patients from home to hospital or from hospital to home or from one hospital to another. Earlier he used to drive auto. In the first wave of Corona, he sold auto and took a taxi. He made this progress by brokering beds in a couple of private hospitals. Then the beds were sold for lakhs of rupees.
The good commission was received from the patient as well as from the hospital.
Ramesh was young and of good stature. According to his information, the coronavirus was dangerous for old or sick people. He used to wear a mask while on duty, going around the hospitals. So he didn't feel threatened by it.
The second wave of Corona was bigger than the first. Ramesh saw another opportunity to earn money. He gave the taxi to another driver on contract. Somehow, he grabbed the job of a driver in an ambulance agency. Now his game was on again. The more seriously ill the patient, the better and sooner the deal would have been. Sometimes his conscience troubled him Then he used to satisfy himself by saying, "I am not alone; some other people are also doing it. I am carrying the patients to the right place on time. People are giving money; I am not forcibly snatching it from anyone."
He used to move his ambulance between four to five hospitals of Delhi. These hospitals were within a distance of one to ten km. He was earning thousands of rupees by running his ambulance in such a short distance.
Everything was going well. One day a friend of Ramesh demanded, " Ramesh, you are earning so much, you should give a party. In the evening, Ramesh reached an expensive hotel with his three or four friends. He bought expensive liquor and the best food of his friends' choice. When they got intoxicated, they removed masks and in jest, they started hand wrestling between them so there remained no social distance between them
The party went on well. Everyone was satisfied and went to their respective homes.
Three or four days later, in the morning, Ramesh was standing outside a private hospital with his ambulance. His body was aching. Perhaps he had not slept well. A middle-aged man came hurriedly up to him and asked, "Will you go to the general hospital? “Ramesh asked, "Is the patient serious? Didn't get the bed?"
"The bed is not empty here. Luckily I got a bed there." The man said.
Ramesh, "Let's go, pay twenty thousand rupees."
The man was shocked and thought he had heard it wrong, so he asked, "How many?"
Ramesh said, "I have oxygen in my ambulance. The patient will reach there safely."
The man said almost tearfully, "My son is ill. I don't have that much money. Then money is needed for treatment also. Generally, Ramesh did not get sentimental but he did not know why he gave a concession to that person.
Ramesh said to him, "Okay give fifteen thousand?"
That person said OKAY. He ran inside the hospital and in a few minutes brought a young man of 24-25 years in his lap.
The young man was also gasping heavily. Ramesh supported and seated the patient in the ambulance and put him on oxygen.
In ten minutes he dropped them at the General Hospital.
Ramesh was not feeling well. He parked his ambulance aside in the compound of the hospital. He had some difficulty in breathing, so he came out of the ambulance to breathe in the open air. Then suddenly he vomited and fainted.
When a ward-boy saw him. He took him inside to the doctor.
The doctor checked up on Ramesh and advised him to get admitted and get tested for Corona. The ward boy said, "Doctor Saab no bed is empty."
The doctor said, "Take him to the 85 no bed, there is only one patient on it."
Ward boy took Ramesh to bed number 85 in the general ward. Ramesh was shocked to see the patient in that bed. He was the same youth whom Ramesh had brought to the hospital in his ambulance. Didn't have to say anything to him. He had understood. He moved to one side and freed half the bed for the other patient. Ramesh lay down next to him. There were two people on all the beds in the ward.
When Ramesh's test report came, he came to know that he had got corona.
Ramesh had seen the horrors of Corona. But he never thought that corona could happen to him too. Now his guilt terrified him. He also carried the corpses of dead persons from Corona at an arbitrary price in his ambulance. He felt that he had fallen ill as a result of his wrongdoings. He had to stay in the hospital for a week.
Every moment he prayed and repented in his heart. He became fine and was discharged from the hospital.
After this incident, he started working honestly. He was also ready to serve the needy people now.
A music concerts
Marzina was an excellent American singer. She got a big name, fame, and money at a quite young age. She could not handle these properly and turned to alcohol and Marijuana. She took intoxicants secretly but the substance abuse spoiled the quality of her singing. There was a drastic drop in the number of her followers. Her shows were not pulling the crowd. Her followers on Twitter dropped by a large number. She felt depressed.
Marzina 's parents lived separately. Her mother Loris lived with her in Seattle, Washington She was a politician and a senator.
She was aware of the plight of her daughter. and wished to help her.
She decided to talk to her. They had dinner together. At the dining table, she started a conversation.
She said, "Marzina I love you.''
Marzina replied,'' I love you too mom?''
She said to Marzina with affection,' When you find it too difficult to manage your life. It is better to take the help of someone, who is experienced and wishes the best for you.''
''What should I do mom? ‘Marzina asked.
Mom said,'' You please avoid intoxication. Rest you leave to me."
Marzina said, ''I will do as you say.''
Ask your Public relations manager to meet me tomorrow evening.”
The next day after the meeting of Marzina's mother and the PR manager all newspapers, and tabloids had a few articles on Marzina, TV news channels were showing Marzina's popular songs' clippings and there was a mention of her latest tweet.
She opened her Twitter account, in which there was a tweet saying, “My greatest wish is to perform in India and learn Yoga.”
She understood it was done by her PR at her mom’s advice.
Thousands of Indian music lovers liked and retweeted her tweet and the number of her followers swelled by a few million.
Indian concert organizers took notice of her tweet and approached her for a concert in Mumbai.
She wished to perform in India since Michel Jackson had performed there.
Marzina thanked her mother and asked, ''How do you get this type of novel idea?
Loris replied,'' Don’t forget. Your mom is a politician too''
Her concert in India was a great success.
She stayed in India for about a month to learn yoga from a reputed Indian Yoga Guru. After a month she returned to the US as a renewed soul.
A right decision
Manoj moved to Mumbai, from a village in Uttar Pradesh four years ago to become an actor. His struggle was on. So far, he had so much success that he was introduced to Veenu, a junior director. Sometimes he got small, insignificant roles in his films.
One day during the shooting of a film, the hero became sick. The important part of the film was to be shot. The director wanted the shooting not to be canceled. It was learned Hero also worked on Night Shift. Hence, he felt exhausted. He went to rest in his luxury van. The director called Veenu and said something. Veenu beckoned Manoj. Manoj went to them.
The director gave ten thousand rupees to Manoj and gave an address. He took a photo of him with his mobile phone and said, "You take a taxi and go to this address. There you will find a person named Karim. Give him eight thousand rupees. He will give you a packet. Bring it. I sent your name and photo to him."
Manoj understood the matter, but he was in need of both work and money. Sometimes we do not shy away from taking risks to fulfill our ambitions. He took the money and booked the cab while walking towards the road. As soon as he reached the pickup place, the cab arrived. He boarded the cab and the cab driver pulled it out
The address given was in the Chawl of Goregaon. The person from whom the packet was to be taken, took the money and gave a plastic packet without asking anything. When he turned, he said softly, "Carry on safely"
Manoj kept that packet in the right pocket of his pants. He felt as if he had a time bomb in his pocket.
He called a second taxi to return and left. He kept his hand on his right pocket all the way.
The shooting location was near Juhu Beach. After reaching there, he handed the packet to Veenu.
He took it to the Hero's luxury van.
The shooting resumed after about half an hour. The shooting went well.
Manoj got double the money that day and got the opportunity to shake hands with the hero.
The next day there was one news in the newspaper, "Police arrested a person named Karim from Goregaon with a large quantity of illegal narcotic drugs. "
The mention of the relevant law and the possible stringent punishment of up to 10 years for Karim was also written under it.
After reading this news, Manoj got frightened. He decided that even if he did not get much work and money, he would return to his village, but for any reason would not attend such work.
Sapna, Saroj, Ashok, and Anil studied in class 11 and were class fellows and friends. Anil and Saroj were just friends. Ashok and Sapna also said they were just good friends. However, Saroj knew that they were romantically inclined toward each other. Sapna had confessed her feelings for Ashok before Saroj.
It was the lockdown period because of the Corona outbreak. They remained most of the time at home.
Sapna and Saroj lived in the adjacent houses and they could see each other and talk by standing near the boundary wall, which stood between their houses.
Every day they talked. Otherwise, they chatted on WhatsApp.
One day Saroj asked Sapna, "How is your boyfriend?"
Sapna silenced her, " shshsh…"
Saroj asked, "What happened?"
Sapna, "Please don't utter this word BF. Better say Ashok. If anybody hears I will have to answer several questions."
Saroj, "Okey. Ashok."
Sapna, "He should be fine."
Saroj, "Don't you chat with him?"
Sapna, "We chat sometimes."
Saroj, "Have you tested his sincerity for you? Does he care about you?"
Saroj had a crazy idea.
She said to Sapna, "You can test him now."
Sapna asked her, "How?"
Saroj, "Call him now to come and meet you."
Sapna, "Saroj are you crazy? If I want him to care about me, I also need to care about him. I can't ask him to violate the Lockdown and expose himself and others to the risk of catching Corona."
Saroj realized his mistake and said, "I am sorry. You are right. We should not instigate or cause anybody to violate the lockdown. Better people stay at home."
It was time to go inside the house.
They did Namaste and went to their houses.
Devendra did not have much interest in politics before. He just voted with his choice. This time, either political parties had been successful in polarizing on such a large scale or the public became so much politically conscious that there was hardly any person who was not in favor or opposition of any party. At least it seemed so from the surrounding environment. Devendra also got some taste for politics and he started reading political articles, news, and editorials in newspapers and started watching political debates on TV channels. As a consequence, he came to know that the country was passing through a great danger. Every party was fighting to save the country. Earlier he believed that the country had to be saved from the bad neighbors like China and Pakistan and terrorists sent by Pakistan. These debates made Devendra realize that these parties were fighting to save the country from each other. In the priority of some politicians, defeating the rival party was more important than defeating the outside enemy.
Devendra got worried and upset about how to save the country from such politicians and such politics. Some of his good wishers advised him to stop watching political debates on TV and stop reading political articles and news in newspapers. Seeing your surroundings, vote based on your independent understanding. That's enough.
Ramesh had been leading a contented life with his wife Prabha and two children Sudheer and Sarita. Both children were good at their studies. The first son was born after 10 years of marriage. Sarita was three years younger than her brother. Sudheer was born following a long wait and prayers. He was a special child to his parents. Though knowingly they did not differentiate between children. Sarita felt her mother was a little partial towards her brother. She also loved her brother very much. So she did not feel bad about the small preferential treatments given to the brother by her mother. However, she teased her mother for this. Whenever the mother would serve food to Sarita and Sudheer together, Sarita would complain, "See, Maa! you have poured more ghee on the rice of brother. Mother would laugh and give some more ghee to her also.
Ramesh and Prabha had great plans and expectations from their son. They cared for Sarita also but they were more concerned about her marriage when she would reach marriageable age. The career and education were secondary in Sarita's case. However, they never discouraged Sarita from her studies.
By and by a long period elapsed. Sudheer was now studying in B.SC and preparing for the joint entrance examination for engineering. Ramesh had admitted him to the best coaching center of the town paying a hefty fee.
There was a hostel also for outside students. Sudheer made friends with some students who were staying in the hostel. Sudheer visited the hostel along with them. After a few days, one of them had a birthday. The leader of the hostel group was Sukumar. One day before the birthday he said to Sudheer, “Tomorrow we will be celebrating Raghu’s birthday at my room in the hostel. Raghu is giving a party. You must come.”
The next day Sudheer told his mother that he would come back late from the coaching. Ramesh was not present there at that time.
Sudheer had no idea about the nature of the party. After the coaching classes. He joined the hostel group at Sukumar’s room. The room had 10 persons. Out of these ten persons, two were girls. The room had been set for the occasion. A round central table was kept in the middle surrounded by chairs. A cake, drinks, and other food items were placed on the table.
Friends prompted Raghu to cut the cake. Raghu blew the candles and cut the cake. All clapped and sang the birthday song in the chorus. Then they started enjoying the food and drinks.
There were two types of drinks, black and white. Sudheer took a black drink but as he brought it to his mouth, he smelled alcohol in it.
He asked, “What is this drink?”
Sukumar, “This is Rum mixed with cola.”
Sudheer kept the glass on the table and said, “I cannot drink it.”
Sukumar, “We are students. We cannot afford a scotch. This is the best drink dear even army men prefer this,” saying he laughed. Others joined him in his laughter.
Sudheer said hesitatingly, “That is not the matter. I don’t drink alcohol.
Raghu said, “We also don’t drink except on some special occasion.”
One girl, whose name was Rosy said, “No problem. You can have wine. Meera and I are taking wine.”
Sukumar taunted, “Are you worse than girls? Drink the wine dear especially when rosy is telling.”
Rosy gave a glass of wine to Sudheer. Sudheer could not refuse her.
After initial hesitation, Sudheer started enjoying the drink and the party.
After they finished the party and were ready to disperse, Sudheer felt his legs were not following his will. He staggered while walking.
Sukumar asked him, “Sudheer, are you okay?”
Sudheer replied, “I am fine.” He did not want to be seen as a weak person.
Sudheer came out of the hostel. The fresh air outside felt nice. He took an auto-rickshaw for going home.
When he reached home his gait was enough to tell his story.
Ramesh and Prabha had a big shock. They did know how to react.