Opinion | Broadminded alright but in all the wrong directions By Damica Mawlong


By Damica Marcia Mawlong | SHILLONG | April 16:

At 10:00pm on Monday (April 13, 2020), phones rang and notifications poured in as reports blew from all around that a Shillong-resident was tested positive for the pandemic Coronavirus (Covid19).

Panic struck the city and the state. Shillong being Shillong is still very much a small hill station where word travels faster than fire, no thanks to technology and the Internet.

The virus had reached the hills of our beloved abode. The 28th state out of 29 had fallen victim to the dreadful virus.

News had it that Dr. X was the first person who fell victim to this life-threatening virus.

Rumors flew in from every corner that the doctor failed the government's guidelines to prevent the virus from entering our state.

Phones rang again, messages were exchanged and forwarded and two hours later, Dr. X was blamed and shamed by a 'certain group of people' who felt that he was the one at fault.

The irony of it all was that another group blamed the government for re-opening wine stores on April 13, 2020. (The connection between the virus and wine stores still makes no sense to me whatsoever).

On the other hand, with no thanks to the internet and social media again, 'hate posts' and 'criticism' filled Facebook, Instagram and Twitter about how Dr. X's recklessness brought danger to the citizens of Meghalaya. Some even named the doctor in their posts (which was clearly defaming his and his family's name), all in the name of concern and criticism. Social media was flooded with HATE.


Amidst all of this, Dr. X was fighting a battle for his life and needed the prayers and well-wishes of everyone that he soon wins the on-going battle. His family needed positive uplifting messages, love, and care but no, they fell prey to the hate and stigmatization of these 'certain groups of people'. Clearly, a case of fear turning to hatred. Period.

On Wednesday morning (April 15, 2020), the state woke up to the news that Dr. X passed away in the wee hours of Wednesday morning; the second Covid19-related death to be reported from the Northeast.

Six members of his family were also tested positive for the virus. Slowly, the 'hate posts' ceased to be visible from all social media platforms after the news channels reported his death. (Well! Well! Well! Conscience started to prick these 'certain group of people' now).

The question here is: Did Dr. X really deserve the unnecessary attention? Did he and his family deserve the humiliation and stigmatization? Who gave the liberty to these small-minded 'certain groups of people' to judge and mortify Dr. X and his family? From the minute he was diagnosed with the calamitous virus, putting everything else aside, as righteous human beings, responsible and like-minded people, we should've stood by the family and prayed for his recovery and prayed that God heals all those who were infected. But no! All hell broke loose.


Like the humiliation was not enough, News channels reported that the funeral entourage was stopped in Jhalupara (where the only electric crematorium in the state is present) while they were on their way to the crematorium. The reason being they were afraid they would contract the virus. The Dorbar Shnong of Nongpoh sent out a letter stating that they would not allow the remains of Dr. X to be brought and buried at his farm as it was 'too close to other residents' houses'. Kudos to the state where people faithfully banged pots and pans to honor medical teams (doctors included) and front liners, clearly proving the hypocrisy of it all.

Note: Dr. X was a man who served the state with integrity and love. The state has lost a servant who has saved the lives of thousands of people by building a medical institution. Many described him as a 'generous, dedicated, kind and compassionate human being'.

Yet, once again, we have failed as human beings. Instead of playing the right cards, we started playing the 'blame game'. Instead of prayers, we offered hate. Here, we've turned his death into a joke because apparently, even the dead are not respected.

I hang my head with shame at how cold and senseless we as humans have become. Yes, WE! The government has failed to do us right and we have failed as humans! Once again, all faith lost in humanity!

After all the noise and disruption, sanity seemed to have entered the minds of some sane people and the Presbyterian Church of Riatsamthiah permitted the use of its cemetery at Lawmali as the final resting place of the late doctor. A quiet funeral was performed with proper church rituals today afternoon under strict supervision and support of the district administration.

Disclaimer: This is a personal opinion. Any views or opinions represented in this article are personal and belongs solely to the author and do not represent people, institutions or organisations that the author is associated with in a professional or personal capacity, unless explicitly stated. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization or individual.