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Kashmir: Psychological Challenges of Covid-19

The entire world is in utter shock since the outbreak of the Coronavirus popularly known as Covid-19.  There is a lot of speculation that is happening right now among the fraternity of jury related to the various fields of life, be it social, economic, educational or psychological. Having affected the economy already, this novel coronavirus has not spared any aspect of life. One may ask which aspect of it has been more severe. The question remains debatable, because every aspect of this virus produces a lion’s share in shaping our personality both at individual and collective level. However, I will be focusing on the psychological aspect of it today.
Ms. Farhat, a Self Help Group member working at Koel Apparel Park, Palamu, Jharkhand. Women’s self-help groups (SHGs) have come to the fore as foot soldiers in India’s fight against COVID-19 (Coronavirus). So far, more than 19 million masks have been produced by some 20,000 SHGs across 27 Indian states. Photo Credit: Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India

The first thing that swamps people who are COVID-19 suspects is the feeling of isolation. No matter how brave you have been, there is definitely a shrink of horror that wraps when you are in administrative quarantine center. You begin to suspect even your roommate irrespective of who he is, brother, friend or a stranger. We develop a psyche that perhaps this man might be affected; we begin to cultivate many apprehensions and cook up stories in our mind. Although we appear to be happy when we are with them, we carry a smile on our face intended to not let them know what you feel inside about them.  This is not a self-orchestrated tale but people have revealed their stories and some are even more terrifying.

In fact in one of the cases it was seen that in one of the family, they burned all the floor mating fearing that the lady who visited them may have coronavirus, where are we heading, this is absolutely inexplicable, the things are going from bad to worse and  from worse to bizarre. The best part is I have experienced it too.  From the moment we landed up and reached to the place where we were supposed to be taken to administrative quarantine center to the day the reports arrive, the scenes were more horrific than a Hollywood flick. The driver of the ambulance even doubts us and was unsure to carry us to the respective administrative quarantine center, may be his fear was justified but then we are all humans. How on earth can be a COVID-19 suspects treated like that? I was seriously disappointed by one of the official’s statement when we were stranded on a national highway for three days without food and other accommodation saying that “You are COVID-19 suspects therefore, do not expect any assistance”. I was dumbfound, could not utter a word, I began to conclude that we do not have the privilege to live like a normal human being unless test is proven negative. So much so was the psychological impact of on us that even if people were tested negative they certainly developed some of the other psychological symptoms which they may have to live with forever, hence they have to deal with a more grave issue than Coronavirus, thanks to those psychopaths who left no stone unturned to ensure we see through it.

The people serving in Quarantine centre were very misbehaving, however, I can’t generalize all which will be unfair, but majority of them would throw lunch boxes from 10 feet distance on the table as if they are serving animals. If these people would show some compassion, this definitely can be a healing policy for the people in quarantine, not that they are asked to risk their lives. But is it wrong to expect a humanly behavior from humans. The suspected people have their families too, do you think they are not the loved ones, what would be their families going through, this is kind of double traumatization.

Another aspect that appeared is that people on knowing once that so and so is positive immediately cut off themselves from the affected family. You are supposed to maintain a physical distance from the family not a social boycott. Social boycott is another factor that entirely disturbs the psyche of the victim. The suspected people feel as if they don’t belong to this world. At once they are made to feel that all their rights have been snatched and they can no longer enjoy the privilege of living respectfully. This physical distance has created a social vague which may never be filled. It has even affected the husband wife relationship. When one is expected to stand by their loved ones in these difficult times, we have seen few Husbands divorcing their wives just because they could not reach back to their in- laws.  I don’t know what made them to do so, we knew it the severity of the lockdown, how would have they managed to reach back to them. Now what will happen to these ladies, who will look after them, how will they survive? Who will bear their expenses? What will happen to their lives, will they too enjoy their lives as before, I am not sure about that but I am sure that it will definitely have a psychological impact on them. There are chances they may end up their lives, this therefore is one of the important challenges in front of us.

Added aspect is the psychological impact on children. They are the worst hit of the COVID-19. Kashmir with already being locked since 5th of August 2019 (Abrogation of Art. 370) is facing the thickest consequences on the education. With online classes in process which depends upon the mercy of internet. This is so because it is based on 2g speed and you never know if any untoward incident takes place, it just take them a wink to snub this 2g service of internet too. Our children who already face the wrath of being the victims of the conflict state are left high and dry.  The same may be said about the daily wagers who would earn some meager amount during day and spent the same amount to ensure his survival on daily basis. They have literary lost the hope , they are helpless but the psychological impact has been severe on them as they keep thinking what will happens if the situation continues to remain same.

Hence both at individual and collective level, the psychological impact have been very serious. No doubt our Heath department is fighting like true warriors. But people have to ensure that they cooperate with them in the best possible way. Make sure the suspects don’t feel isolated in the sense of being alone. They will be fine sooner, we have to fight collectively. We should not doubt take great care of hygiene. No doubt we should wash our hands regularly and sanitize time and again but the most important thing is to sanitize our hearts the most in order to remove the dirt of indifference. We all know these are tough times but we also know “if winter comes can spring be far away”. We will see through it soon and life will be back on track soon.

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