26 Monday
July 2021
I will remember.

The second wave of Covid was a dreadful time for all Indians. No family was spared. Everyone lost someone in their close circle of friends and family.

I watched with anguish as cases started increasing exponentially in the first week of April. By 15th April all hospital beds were already occupied and there were distress calls for oxygen beds, oxygen cylinders, tablet Favipavir,injection Remdesivir. Whatsapp groups were flooded with requirements for convalescent plasma and injection Toclizumab.

There is no doctor who was not inundated with calls begging for beds. As IMA Gurugram secretary my phone was ringing 24*7 with distress calls for oxygen from hospitals and nursing homes. There were several times when we got calls to say please help us shift out patients on ventilators as last cylinder of oxygen is about to finish. Patients died in nursing homes when oxygen ran out.

The district administration asked us to audit admissions to assess whether patients admitted in corporate hospitals were really sick and needing admission, and not just privileged ones who were occupying beds denying life saving oxygen to those who needed it more.

There was a night when the phone kept ringing all hours when finally at 5.30 am we called the commissioner to request police protection to 6 hospitals as oxygen had run out and we didn’t want doctors to get beaten up when patients died.

That was a horrible time. I get goose flesh thinking of the helplessness we felt for our fellow countrymen. We did a video call with the health minister and chief secretary begging for more oxygen for Gurgaon. We had 1/3rd of the cases in Haryana but were not given 1/3rd the oxygen. Never did we get more than 45 MT when the requirement for the city was 70MT. Countless number of patients stayed at home, and died without oxygen but their deaths are not counted as Covid deaths.

Queues for refilling oxygen
There were days when the Covid crematorium in Gurgaon had 90 plus cremations, some in the parking lot outside the cremation ground but the official deaths of Gurgaon never exceeded 22 on any day.

We all saw bodies floating in the Ganga, we saw shrouds of hundreds of bodies buried on river banks. We read thousands of tweets begging for beds and oxygen and injections. We saw administrators of hospitals break down and say in-patients died as oxygen ran out. We have as a nation been through the collective horror of the second wave.

Now our government declared in Parliament that no one died of oxygen shortage. No one.

Those who were lying in election rallies are now lying in Parliament, the sacred temple of democracy. They had declared no one had died in Demonetisation bank lines, not one migrant worker had died in the first lockdown and they had no idea how many doctors had died in Covid. Now they have erased all evidence of what we have collectively seen and lived through in the second wave.

Do we have such short memories that we will start doubting what really happened? Probably that’s what they are banking on. Pulwama erased painful memories of GST and Demonetisation. Similarly mandir will remove all horrific memories of Covid deaths and farmers protests.

But there are some of us who won’t forget. I will respect the memory of those who died. I will seek an apology from my government. I will ask for more investment in healthcare. Let others forget their sufferings and get swayed by rhetoric.

I will remember.
Dr.Sarika Verma
ENT Surgeon Gurgaon
AAP Spokesperson