I’m not a religious person, but I’m praying for India right now.
We’ve seen the photos making international headline news, of people queuing for emergency medical attention, of mass funeral pyres, as the country cracks under the weight of 17 million COVID-19 cases.
But as a woman whose parents are of Indian heritage, who was born in Australia but identifies herself as Indian, too – I see something very different.
Every woman in a sari could be my mum, my aunt, my cousin, me.
India is my spiritual motherland and it’s a tie which cannot be broken. Which is why it’s a heartache like no other watching it go down in flames as it fights to survive the almost unsurvivable.
This is especially because my uncle died from COVID-19 in the city of Bangalore last week, and my mum’s only remaining sister, my beloved Mausi (aunt) is currently hospitalised with it.
There’s no doubt it’s an absolute disaster.
On Tuesday, professor Mary Louise McLaws, Epidemiologist and adviser to the World Health Organisation, told the Today Show that in comparison to “countries like Turkey, Brazil and the US” India was responsible for half the cases globally in the past 24 hours.
McLaws also explained that COVID-19 is rampant in India because of the sheer size of the population - breaking the already broken healthcare system, and the impossibility of effective social distancing.
We talk about the dire state of our Australian emergency departments… but times that by the population of India – almost 1.4 billion – and, well, even the most well-resourced country would be straining.
Knowing what I know about the healthcare system of India, from my parents and from personally visiting hospitals during pre-COVID-19 times, it’s difficult to summon hope.