You will have to buy another mask.
This won’t do.
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.
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!
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.