Sreerupa: A poem: Whose bread?

Image: Corona Virus Help Desk

Indian Health Ministry posters on the prevention of the Covid-19 coronavirus have been posted in hospitals, airports, train stations and other sites. ©RFI/Murali Krishnan

Whose bread?

Every morning machines whistle, pots clang – the bakery is busy
Bread and biscuits are prepared, boxes are packed and workers are happy
Every morning I am baked, wrapped in a brown cover, made ready for sale
I travel to an orphanage to feed children who are lonely and pale.

My world was bright and joyful, till one day
A virus spread across the globe and put lives at bay
The pandemic created fear, triggered confusion and treason
People were panicky- survival was foremost, their behavior lost reason
Government ordered lockdown – protection of the population was key
In the absence of vaccine, social isolation became the p strategy.

Is social isolation pragmatic for all women, men and children?
Context matters but there was absence of detailed thought or discussion
Daily labourers, slum dwellers, elderly, differently-abled, refugees
What will they eat? Where will they go? How will life go on?

Food was hoarded, rights denied – discrimination was blatant
In a bid to protect oneself, othering was evident
As I was being baked amidst confusion – I asked aloud
Where will I go? Orphanage or to the big house?
To big houses to save and sustain lives
I couldn’t believe what I heard, my voice was chocked and I lost words
It is time to rethink – in this time of crisis are we prioritizing lives, and fueling inequities?

As countries struggle for existence, many questions come to light
How do we balance public health and human right?
How prepared are we for risk management, how effectively can we fight?

The pandemic has forced us to reflect, adopt a new approach to life and living
We need to understand our context and focus on systems thinking
I will be backed again tomorrow for lives more ‘important’
But for development to be inclusive and sustainable empathy is most significant.

Sreerupa Sengupta, PhD
Assistant Professor, Healthcare Management
GOA Institute of Management

Commentary received on: 05.04.2020

Assistant Professor, Healthcare Management GOA Institute of Management

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