It is amazing how at this time of Covid-19, death has taken centre stage and life relegated to the background.

True, we strive to live, but every day we die many times, fearing this death that may come unexpectedly. Certainly, not like the “cowards” who “die many times before their death” (Julius Caesar, Act 2, Sc 2, 32-33), in the words of Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play, but out of a realistic fear of being the exception to the rule to these vaccines which are calculated to give us significant protection, as has been the case of many who passed despite that protection; or become the victim of cycle of treatment after hospitalisation, which inspires little confidence because of the dearth of information as to its effectiveness, so much so that for many, the prevailing perception that being hospitalised is a virtual death sentence; or should you survive both, the vaccines and hospitalisation, that you may, innocuously, become the victim of an unvaccinated relative or friend or colleague worker.

And this is not hyperbole. The numbers alone—infections and deaths for a small country of 1.3 million—increasing exponentially by the day, are enough to scare the daylights out of the most hardened anti-vaxxer. Not mere infection and possible rehabilitation, but on a very personal level, the prospect of the ultimate for those least expecting it.

Not to mention the fact that having succumbed, howsoever, to Covid-19 or otherwise, that dying has lost its wonted dignity and sacrosanctity, now becoming unmanageable for those who can’t afford, and fodder for those normally entrusted with such a sacred responsibility.

And if even you survive Covid-19, you continue to die a virtual death, with the ultimate irony that even as your pocket continues to lose its capacity to pay your mortgage and keep your home and feed and maintain your family in this time of Covid-19, prices continue to rise exponentially as if it were “high culture” to do so; and added to this is the agony for any caring parent, watching a system of denial stunt the psychologi­cal growth of their children and killing them softly when a carefully thought-out plan could strategise their gradual admission to the classroom even as they are protected.

But even as death walks proud, there are still a few ques­tions we can ask. How come the proportion of deaths among the ordinary population is so mind-boggling? Foolish question, I suppose, for AstraZeneca and other US patents were made available for a “privileged” few while the ordinary majority had to be content with the “lowly” Sinopharm.

And what of English Premier League mana­gers like Frank Lampard, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola and numerous players who could routinely return to the league after being infected? Couldn’t our politicians send a mission to get information about effective treatment of Covid-19 so that we can benefit here?

Foolish question again, even simple-minded, for it seems that for Third World countries such as ours, it is almost a self-­fulfil­ling prophecy that we should be backward, not in itself though, but for politicians and their officials to indulge in their own self-importance and thirst for power without being accountable, never acknowledging that the “buck stops with them” in a continuing crisis like Covid-19, with so disproportionate a number of infections and deaths, and do the honourable thing in the interest of the people.

Brutus would say in Julius Caesar that “I love/ the name of honour more than I fear death” (Act 1, Sc 2, 88-90), but that takes cha­rac­ter; and about our politicians and their satellites, the less said about that quality, the better.

Dr Errol N Benjamin


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