Social media is abuzz with posts from men and women from the Northeast who have been badly treated elsewhere in India during the coronavirus crisis.
From the Manipuri woman in Delhi who suffered the humiliation when a 40-year-old man spat paan on her and called her ‘corona’ to the Mizo girl who was pushed off a queue in a departmental store by a man in Hyderabad, such humiliating experiences smacking of racial profiling abound.
But a post by a nurse in Bangalore who is from the Northeast is most shocking.
The picture of her suggests she is tired after a long shift.
‘It’s 7:20 pm and I am standing in front of a shop casually buying some sweets to keep me going through my 14 hrs night shift. The little kid who’s standing next to me in the shop sees me and runs screaming ‘coronavirus’. Kids are not born racist. Kids are taught to be racist through media, by the people close to them.
If only I could explain to this little kid that I am getting ready to handle a ‘positive tested corona case’ who doesn’t look anything like me. Yes, I am from Northeast India saving lives in south India. No, I don’t want to blame the kid. Racism hurts coming from adults and now even kids. Racism is a disease.
This little kid will never know I will be inside an isolation room with a ‘positive tested corona case’ for 14 hrs; breathing the same air, helping the patient sit, walk and urinate. I will be fully covered in my Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suit from head to toe.
For 14 hours I will not be able to eat or drink a single drop of water or urinate or open the isolation room’s door. If people ask why I am not able to eat, drink or urinate while caring for pandemic patients, it’s because I will have to re-shower, re-wear the entire PPE suit. Also, I can’t leave my sick patient alone in the isolated room for a second. Patient is my priority.
This message is not about blaming a kid; but a message about not being racist. Yes, I have small eyes; but does that make your thoughts even smaller? I am saving your lives risking mine and you’re busy giving me names and calling me ‘virus’. You say I don’t look Indian enough.
Despite all the pressure, I am willing to work, to save lives. Yes, that’s why I am a NURSE. On behalf of all the nurse I want to tell people to be nicer to nurses. When nobody goes near pandemic patients, it’s the nurse who does everything for them; but we never get even a simple “thank you”.
I am also posting this on behalf of all north-east Indian or every Asian looking Indian brothers and sisters. We face discrimination on a day to day basis in other parts of India.
I am NOT posting this from China or any north east Indian state.
I am a nurse working and saving lives in Bangalore.
I am always there for you my dear patients. I will choose to care for you even if you choose to hate me.’
Writer’s name withheld
A crisis is said to bring out the best and the worst in any country.