It’s 2-something AM and I’m working on an article that was to be uploaded yesterday.
Clearly, keeping schedules isn’t my forte (what IS my forte then? wait, not the time Ankit) ((although I’m fairly sure I’m usually better than whatever slump I’m in right now, to say the least)).
This time last year we were stuck at home trying to make something of an alien new concept of endless free-time and zero freedom to do anything. And we genuinely believed that it couldn’t get any worse.
Cut to today, including whatever the blur of the last month-and-a-half encompassed where it seems like we’re living in some dystopian world similar to that of Skyrim with an all-too familiar pop-up ; Current Objective: Survive.
Cue ‘No one is safe’, ‘every man for himself’, ‘valar morghulis’, and other generic, bleak, fatalistic quotes.
Oh and surprise, surprise, our awesomely negligent government had refused to take any precautions or preventive measures against the second wave of the virus, a fate of which we were duly warned by every scientist worth his salt.
Chaos ensues as there are people running around for oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ICU beds, vital injections- essentially a long and non-exhaustive list.
However even as the country seems to fall apart, I see glimpses of hope. God, I sound like a parody of myself but it just so happens that these past months have caused me to completely re-evaluate every aspect of life in general.
So that’s what the rest of this blogpost is going to be about.
These glimpses of hope.
Reading further on is optional, it’s fully going to be anecdotal and referencing that of my personal experiences with these people, but I’ll try and make it, what’s the word? Engaging.
Somewhere in the duration of early to mid April, as we see the case counter skyrocket and shit starting to hit the fan, I start frantically storying news about COVID resources and helpline numbers in an effort to ease my survivor guilt. ‘Hey, at least I’m doing SOMETHING to help’.
My very handsome friend Adwaith Praveen (swear, he didn’t pay me to write this) tells me that he’s adding me to a group that he’d started with his college mate Chris Kevin (another pretty lad) and a bunch of other friends, that sort of worked on the same thing. Mobilizing resources.
I was skeptical, naturally, because I didn’t yet know the power we wielded and the distances we could travel sitting behind the screens of our cellulars and laptops.
I went, “Yeah, sure whatever”.
I meet a bunch of new people upon being added there, and now after two official newspaper articles about us spanning The Hindu and ToI, I’ve taken it upon myself to write about the people who I felt have been working relentlessly to this day (and counting) and those who help out periodically and were okay with their names being mentioned in this article.
Let’s meet our leading lady, ‘mother hen’ Shreya AP (or was it Shreya Sridhar?) from Christ University and my great friend for years now. Since the first day that I punched in, she’s been working steadfastly at the front, making the magic work. She handles the requests that we get in on our page @covidsosindia, and allocates the work to us, after rightly pointing us in the direction of resources. Upon completion of tasks, often the first person to congratulate us, Shreya makes the dreary work fun.
Moving onto my bestie the ‘champagne supernova’, Dhiksha , who still studies in highschool, and manages the preparation for a 100,000 entrance tests and the internal dread of the possibility of a board exam, between, you know, SAVING LIVES. Almost always the first to volunteer to make phone calls when the need arises and scraping through every crevice of social media to get leads, DG makes most of us college goers look bad.
With good reason too. I’m inspired, perhaps I’ll go back to 12th grade. Keep going bff.
Up next, we have ‘chakkara muth’ Nivi (her real name’s Nivethitha I-can’t-spell-it-right), an absolute sweetheart who serves as the life of the party in this informal group (yes we’ve separate groups for work and chilling) whose idea of taking a day off is to come into work anyway and help out the rest of us who are stuck searching for a lead. She scours the internet, comes up with a contact list that none of us have seen before, and then makes it happen. a hundred jaws drop.
Hit her up for casual Fahadh Fazil fangirl sessions (make sure you invite me).
Moving to the gents-rification (I’m sure it means what I think it means).
‘Stoical hero’ Adu (hitherto mentioned Adwaith) sometimes has me completely convinced that he doesn’t sleep. Or maybe he does, and his AI bot takes over and does the work for him.
The guy’s a med student but he does more than put on his white coat and play Doctor-Doctor.
I mean he takes brownie points for being the person behind the inception of these miracle workers-group, but if that wasn’t enough, he also manages and assists Shreya in allocating the work and dividing different patient appeals and connecting the concerned authorities and the patients.
We have a resident movie critic and ‘soon-to-be celebrity’ Adithya Muthukumar in the house, (affectionately and mandatorily called muthuwu by ALL of us) who apart from using his established connections (he’s the guy who knows a guy) to source leads, works on talking to influencers and other minor league celebrities to promote the appeals we receive on our page, and signal boosting it into oblivion. Another high schooler whose experience with COVID is all too personal, he serves as Mr.Wiseguy in the informal (he sends the memes, VITAL).
We’ve arrived at the J-square. Two giants, ‘corrupt by design’ Jayanth, and ‘rage against the machine’ Jeyanth.
Jayanth ‘Jay’ Narra has been around here longer than the rest of us and therefore preaches holy wisdom to us when we take time off (basically warning us away from engineering). My quizzing buddy back from my days of high school, Jay also uses his extensive network of people to bring in leads to the centre. Which like, really REALLY makes our work a whole lot easier mannnn.
Jeyanth RS is another dapper dan who happens to be a violin maestro (I swear I’m not reading this off his tinder profile). Nay-sayer to break-takers, Jeyanth’s sharp wit combined with his suave, uh, “conduct” makes him a favorite and must-have in every informal conversation. Man also gets a brownie for being the only one to double-tap on the jokes I send in there.
Make no mistake though, he’s razor focused when he’s on the job. Which is like ninety percent of the time.
Hi Pranav ‘bae’ Agumbe. Did you think I’d miss ya? Internet friend that I’ve known for over a year now, the primary basis of our friendship was ranting towards each other. We LiVe In A sOciEty and he remains the most prized addition I’ve made to the group, who despite having off-days, brushes past it to make sure that someone somewhere makes it home alive.
Bae reminds me of myself in some ways (we both can’t sleep at night) , which I suppose is another reason why I adore the guy.
Shreya ‘Fireside’ Volety. That’s not her real middle name, come to think of it, I don’t think she has one. ‘Anime sreya’ as christened by Nanditha, took like fifteen seconds to become everyone’s favorite upon her addition to the group, honestly. This lovely lady runs through lists of donors and hospitals making calls by the dozen and swiftly reports back to duty.
And when she takes her time off, she gives me company, which ALSO rocks. 10/10 wife, who’ll definitely scold me for staying up this late writing the day I am to be vaccinated.
C Help or COVID Help initially started out as a Chennai-based initiative that worked on getting hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, and blood donations to patients that need it in most of our hometowns.
Now, they work as a 24/7 Pan India group, fully held up by a group of teenagers and young adults just like you. With incredible foresight in disaster mitigation, these people rounded up the names of hundreds of blood donors knowing well that the banks would run dry. And so on.
There’s not a lot of people in this version of life that’re born with privilege, it’s those who choose to do good with the upper hand that they’ve been provided that go on to be remembered.
I can’t fully express my joy and happiness when we reach milestones such as over a 1000 requests being processed, bundled with hundreds of patient ‘thank-you’ notes and so on.
Mind you, it isn’t an easy job. With such an abysmally high death toll and patients’ names and their relations being associated in our minds, the news of death isn’t something most of us are equipped to cope with emotionally, and often is very mentally taxing.
Yet, they move.
Never taking a day off, sometimes at the cost of their own psyche’s wellbeing, they move.
You gotta love ‘em, man.
I’m glad that I get to be friends with them.
When the government fails to fulfill its duty towards its citizens, the citizens must rise up to the occasion themselves.
As small-time Youtubers do at the end of their videos by mentioning their Patreon patrons, I’ll now list out the names of all the other people that I know of who’ve worked tirelessly in making this happen, past and present. The work put in by them is by NO means of any lesser magnitude or significance. May the force forever be in your favour. It’s been a pleasure, and I look forward to the day where we can resort to our normal lives.
Teen titans, GO!
Nanditha (AKA Eggy, the cutest of them all <3 who will soon get her own plaque for being senior stock market analyst something)
Susan- Vyshnavi Praveen- Nikhil- Sameeha Mariam- Krutika- Bupesh- Vignesh Kannan- Vandhana- Nikhitha- Sabarish- Reshma Reddy- Tharun Jayaprasad- Jishnu- Manya Prasad- Lokesh- Sumaiyya- Hrsh Venkat- Akshaya Ranganathan- Achyuthan- Sanjana- Gayathri- Rafa- Vishwajeet- Divya- Amrutha Nathan
Vasisht Balaji Srinivasan (the one and only VSB)
Where do I fit in all of this?
https://tinyurl.com/3p77t7k9 (I assure you it isn’t a rickroll)
But I’m very, VERY, happy to help.