“You are positive, please isolate yourself.” She was so shocked she involuntarily repeated what she had just heard over her mobile.
Those standing near and talking to her suddenly went silent and took a few steps back.
She had come a long way from home to this place of worship. A couple of personal tragedies had driven her here to find solace.
As she was escorted to an isolated room in an unoccupied section of the spacious devotees’ inn, she protested vigorously. There must be a mistake. I had tested as soon I arrived two weeks ago. After that I have been busy with the prayers. Never gave another sample. The caller had said the sample was drawn four days ago. How can that be mine? Do I really look sick to you?
The authorities were sympathetically firm. They would arrange for a test. She would pay for it. The food would be delivered to her door. She would stay in.
The caller got up from his chair and reached for a file. He flipped the pages until he located the name. “Here it is. There is no mistake. Wait a minute. What did you say your initials were? It is different here. Must be someone else. Sorry!” He disconnected. He had another call to make.
For the isolated woman, the cruelest blow was not being allowed to visit the main place of worship, a short walk away. She called a fellow devotee who had appeared sympathetic. Could he please take a photo and share with her during the evening and in the morning? She wanted to be there for the prayers but was not allowed to. At least the photos would make her feel close.
Night descended in the dimly lit wing of the inn. It turned cold. She remained stuck to her phone. The corridor echoed with her desperate narration as she reached out to friends and family many miles away.
Please don’t come back mother, her son said. He had an important examination coming up. I don’t think any virus will want to come near you, I should know, said the husband. He was never in favor of her coming to this place that did not preach his religion. She hoped they were both joking, just to keep her cheerful.
A couple had made plans to join an old lady on the way back the next day as they were staying in the same town. They had seen her talking to the “positive” one during lunch. Did she know she was infected? Why didn’t she tell them? The old lady said yes the report was positive, but…. The couple walked away. Later they would call the lady and tell her something had come up and they would leave early on their own. In the morning as the three waited at the gate for their respective cabs, the couple simply looked through the old lady standing right next to them.
Her new report arrived. There was no infection.
Later as she stood in prayer at her favorite place that gave her so much peace, she could not see the virus standing next to her. The virus was also praying.
“I have failed, God. You wanted me to cause fear and death. I did. You said that would make them see within and help one another. So that they could again be the humans you created.
“I held a mirror, as you wanted. They did not look. Lifeless numbers and evil plans are clouding their eyes. The thirst for destruction distracts them.
“I changed forms to smite them differently. To no avail. They would not revert. The loathing and the divisions are too strong. Those you made to be humane no longer cares to be.
“Please take me, God! I want to be back where there is love and compassion. I want to be back in your embrace. ”