The second jab

You will have to buy another mask.
Why?
This won’t do.
Huh?

Let me get this; the mask i wore, a faint off white with light green fused with darker green floral designs – one i bought at a fancy mall in a designer outlet where it sold like hot cakes. The one i wear frequently to meet, greet, go places, this life-saving device/equipment that i have had for the last 6 months isn’t allowed!

Why not this mask? i ask the security
Because it’s cloth, he answers not bothering to look at me.
Again – Huh?

i stand in queue for another mask at another counter.
20 rupees, the man reveals.
Is cloth mask not allowed? i ask him. 
The N95 is required, he answers.
But is the cloth mask no good? i try again.
The man in security uniform looks up – me him glass pane in between our masks he in N 95 costing 20 me in my fancy cloth one costing 125. In 5 seconds i retrieve my wallet. 

N95 wins.

Second floor garden section, the security man reveals the location where i had to go to get my dose.
The security outside told me, i inform him.
He didn’t look pleased, picked up the phone. i didn’t give a damn, moved in the direction of the second floor. Along the way i asked the staff, all of them replied, a touch of empathy in their voices gave helpful directions. 

i reached the ‘garden’ area, noticed a couple of staff looking types – told the magic word – vaccine, was promptly handed a form that had all sorts of questions.

Name, age, any illness, medication on, first dose etc till it reaches ‘are you lactating or have been pregnant recently?’ Then i took a slight pause, thought of all the issues regarding such forms – data privacy, health records, contact details, gender skewed questions – wondered when it had all stopped mattering. ‘COVID VACCINATION’ here – flashed before me. i went back to answering the rest of the questions & submitted the form.

After that it all happened fairly quick – 3 counters of form filling, data checking (and storing on private hospital records!) paying through card, then sit for 5 wait for a counter to get free, feel bored in 2 and call a friend. While talking, feel the familiar discomfort of mask on face and pull it down below my nose, continue talking. 

Sir wear your mask properly. 

Feeling guilty, i didn’t even look up at the security guy who said that and promptly raised it back up. He added without me asking – The news people are here. 

Oh that’s why! 

That instant i got called greeted by 2 Mallu* resident docs/nurses in full COVID gear one Mallu conversation 6 twinkling eyes one pinprick jab with instructions to sit out for 15 before leaving. Done!

Sort of.

Sir, i am from T xxx@# media network. India has just finished 100 million vaccinations. Wanted your reaction. 

i looked up at the jeans clad journo with a you have been chosen look on her face. 

No reaction, i replied.

Taken aback she leaves in pursuit of another vaccine victim.
i sit back wait for them to issue my certificate. My 15 minutes are up – i move from jab area to the general waiting space.

At the waiting space i take it in – people groups chairs turf chatter cameras. All that’s missing is food for this global health fest! I snap my mobile out, go click, click – one, two, three, when a voice interrupts 

Sir, why are you clicking pics? 

i’m i’m i’m….. i hammed and hawed, as i looked at her – young, specs, ID around neck – oh oh. 

As i exited the hospital, i thought back to what transpired – i took control showed her my pics no mug shots no hospital name just the ambience during my second jab. She bought it. 

i walked out, my arm throbbed just a little as i thought – was the jab worth it? Is it done or will there be more? i couldn’t think more of it – busy streets, vehicles zipping, time to get back in the fast lane.

Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

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