When the news came that our teaching fraternity from Aligarh Muslim University had suffered the death of 40 Professors, Delhi University also suffered loss of 30 precious lives, it was a rude shock for the community. As an administrator I whispered a prayer of relief that loss of University of Allahabad was not so high - 7 in all, 3 teaching and 4 non teaching staff. All the rest have recovered. 4 fatalities also reported from constituent colleges. What we lost was valuable and is deeply mourned and equally valuable is what we have managed to save by God's grace and timely administrative decisions.
The sudden demise of a Professor of Allahabad University was a knocking of a deadly monster, which not all could hear, the monster, which was spreading its wings to engulf almost all of us. As many as 9 of the administrative staff reported sick. I thought hard, about the ongoing online exams, then suddenly in my mind everything seemed to have lost meaning, with the news of a second death on the campus. I knew something was not normal and we needed to shut down immediately. So after an emergent meeting on th 8th of April 2021 we decided to seal the campus and close the University and the constituent colleges until 30th of April 2021. I could hear the silence before the storm. A week down the closure and yet another death of a faculty member, had brought us to our knees, helplessly folding hands asking prayers for all those who had fallen prey to the disease. Then began the spree of frantic phone calls, of teaching and nonteaching staff from all around asking for oxygen cylinders, medicines, ambulance and then many settling in a melancholic silence of hopelessness.
After consulting my Doctor friends all I could suggest to them was home isolation. A whooping 300 staff from the University and its constitutent colleges in a span of the following week were in home isolation.
A list of all those whose family was suffering was reaching new numbers every day. Hospital beds were jam-packed. Many still trying to get into the hospital. Two faculty members were airlifted to Delhi hospitals.
The silence of death prevailed on the campus as 3 of the ministerial staff also left for their heavenly abode. A video conference with the others showed the fear of falling prey to the disease on the faces of everyone. I cajoled them into eating healthy food. Let food be thy medicine and not medicine be thy food is what I used, to motivate them.
5 weeks down today as I collected information, to find that almost all homes of the University family were hit by CoVID 19 but all home isolation families had recovered, using medical advice over telephone and eating nutritious food at home, and also being around the family deriving emotional as also physical support by their mere presence had healed them physically and emotionally.
A colleague was breathless as he called me asking for hospital bed and if I could help. He was in bad shape when he reached the hospital. He further deteriorated and at a point into hopelessness. The hospital was short of equipment. The attendant did not know what was the equipment about, but in a sudden surge to save and protect, the breathing equipment was loaned to me from another hospital and the doctor was quick in fixing it. Hope seemed to fade as he failed to respond and show any signs of improvement for the next 2 days. The doctor told me to be ready for any news. But I saw the team of doctors, nursing staff and paramedical staff working night and day upon him and also on so many other patients who were in ICU. We managed to establish onesided contact with the patient, the words of loved ones weaved a magic untold and then one evening we saw the oxygen levels improving at a slow pace, and it went up gradually, the almost damaged tissues of the lungs repaired saw him returning back to life. We were all basking in blithesome joy and happiness.
It was then that I learnt that the Doctor himself had had a severe attack of the disease and was just out of the hospital. When all of us are in hiding in the safe havens of our homes, these doctors, nurses and paramedics leave home early return late. They dare to enter places were none of us dare to enter, the Covid patients wards! To me they all look like soldiers in shining armor. Rising quicker than their fall to serve so many others ailing in the hospital beds. Thank you Doctors, Nurses and Paramedics for your undaunting fight with the deadly monster and while I know so many from your fraternity have laid their lives, you are marching on, with a zeal to save humanity.
Timely closure, of the campus had broken the chain. Home isolation and care has been the mantra. We will soon return to the routine regular functioning and also pull the session back on the track. For now it is a moment to sit up and say - Thank you Doctors and all associated once again!! You teach us the lesson of faith, commitment, confidence and courage.