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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Candle In The Wind

'I can’t tell you what it was like in chronological order. I haven’t forgotten…I just find it hard to remember.' Historian Narayani Basu recalls the horror of battling to breathe.

Candle In The Wind
Art: Vaanya Arora, 14
Candle In The Wind
outlookindia.com
2021-07-09T19:56:39+05:30

April.

Early summer in Delhi is usually associated with the first searing heat-waves of the season; with ripening mangoes and golden amaltas that burst into blooms on the trees that line the streets. Melting ice-cream and warm nights. Hay-fever…I usually have bad attacks of sneezing and coughing in April. This year, it was no different. Except when I developed a sudden raging fever. It was the second week of April. Delhi was already seeing a spike in Covid cases.

I live with my parents—both elderly, both with assorted co-morbidities. So, naturally, I’m careful to the point of paranoia. I hadn’t gone to any crowded spaces or been careless. But here I was, with a fever edging rapidly over a hundred degrees. I isolated myself from the start. I don’t remember too much about the next few days, to be honest.

My mother tells me that, for the first day, my fever just didn’t abate. It obstinately refused to budge—eventually staying static at 104.5 degrees. My head felt as though it was splitting and my eyes were on fire. The doctor recommended all the urgent Covid protocols be started right away, particularly because I have a history of asthma. If this went to my lungs at any point, there would be hell to pay. A list of medicines with strange names—Ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine—was handed to my mother. It was late at night and there were no taxis. The neighbourhood stand’s drivers had deserted the city at the start of the second wave. My mother didn’t want to call an Uber as she didn’t even know where she would get this assortment of medicines. Finally, a kind taxi driver came to her rescue, and took her to Yusuf Sarai. She was away for hours—visiting shop after shop. But, medicines were already in short supply, as oxygen was soon going to be. It was nearly midnight and my...

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