Among the emblematic images of India’s Covid lockdown that went viral on social media, was one of two friends—Mohammed Saiyub (23) and Amrit Kumar (24). Clicked in May 2020, it has Saiyub cradling Kumar’s head on his lap. Kumar’s eyes are shut and mouth open, hinting that he’s gasping for breath. Saiyub, perhaps, is talking to him and mourning as his friend lay dying.
Besides the crisis among migrant labourers desperately trying to escape to their villages, it epitomises friendship in crisis, especially at a time when Saiyub’s community was specifically targeted for allegedly spreading the viral disease, in the aftermath of a religious congregation in Delhi by the Tablighi Jamaat sect.