'There are angels watching over us'

Updated: Jun 02, 2020, 07:29 IST | Sr Mudita Sodder | Mumbai

Humanity is a beacon in bleak times, says a repatriated nun, who dispels qualms about quarantine and says kindness abounds, let us make it the new norm

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

Sr Mudita SodderWith repatriation flights now coming into the country, there is a lot of trepidation about quarantine measures in India. People are fearful about their experience on landing. On one hand, there is a great deal of relief on reaching home, on the other, there is wariness about what the on-ground situation will bring.

I am an evacuee, a repatriate who flew into Mumbai from Chicago on May 13, 2020. We are hearing stories about problems and challenges during and after evacuation. Yet, I can say that angels are watching over us too.

Beyond duty
The Indian Consulate at Atlanta was one such space where goodness was teeming over. The staff worked for 36 hours at a stretch in order to help evacuate stranded Indians. Service beyond the call of duty seemed to be the new normal. I got a call at 9.30 pm on May 7, 2020 on a friend's mobile, which was the beginning of the repatriation process. This was the start of a chain of events where kindness was the link.

From answering calls at 11 pm to desperate calls on a Sunday, the staff's response was stellar. There were immense challenges during the journey. An official and wheelchair attendant of American Airlines showed extraordinary care and understanding when the airlines lost my baggage; and spared no energy to find it.

I flew from South Carolina to Chicago first and then to Mumbai. It was touchdown Mumbai with so many others who had undertaken a long-awaited but arduous journey back home.

Home, at last
A wheelchair attendant at the Mumbai International Airport was a god-sent soul who wheeled me through the thermal test, Arogya Setu, Immigration, Customs, government quarantine etc. I also saw many Muslims helping tirelessly at the airport with enthusiasm and joy despite observing Roza.

In the government-organised special AC BEST bus to transport us to our Juhu hotel for quarantine, a skinny young man helped me and three other women put our heavy suitcases into the bus, belying his size. A volunteer lent some money for bus fare, as all of us were not carrying Indian currency. This compassion is the new normal for me. I just hope this continues post the crisis.

Let it ripple
While being quarantined at the hotel, despite some inconveniences, I experienced the zenith of humanity. The staff lived up to the adage: service with a smile. The BMC employees also sparkled. At the end of my quarantine, I returned home at Sophia College free of cost. I was dropped by a well-wisher. I am undergoing 14 days of home quarantine at Sophia College, which has been my home in Mumbai since 38 years. I am a nun who belongs to the Society of the Sacred Heart.

I reflect as I sit at the workstation inside my room that if the goodness of human beings radiates all around in a crisis situation, why can't we start what I call the 'Ripple Effect' movement, where kindness can spill over even in ordinary times? One act of kindness can inspire an incredible amount of goodwill.

It can snowball into many more generous acts of goodness in return.

Crooks and cheats abound as well in such situations. "Light makes the darkness invisible", said Desert Father (a hermit) Anthony Bloom. May the light of our good deeds make the darkness of cons and frauds invisible. Let us make this a time when Mother Earth healed and human beings found their humanity again. Let us make this the new normal.

The writer is a PhD doctorate and belongs to the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart

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