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18 June, 2020 07:40:10 PM

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Covid-19 helps me bounce back, quit smoking

I pull out David Copperfield from my bookshelf thinking that I may not have a second chance to read this unfinished, favourite memoir of Dickens. I read almost seven chapters
Rezaul Karim Reza
Covid-19 helps me bounce back, quit smoking

As coronavirus spreads all over the world, it makes me ill faster than ever. I have been suffering from asthma, before appearance of coronavirus, for a long time.

The updates of the symptoms worsen my worries. I have chest pain, dry cough, and fever almost all the time. Breathing problem and sneezing is my constant company. When I hear that all these are the symptoms of Covid-19, I become mentally sick. It makes me almost mad when I get to know that the smokers are more likely to be infected than the non-smokers. I smoke a lot—I am a chain-smoker. Panic seized me!

When the first Covid-19 cases in Bangladesh are reported, the country goes under lockdown like many other countries around the world.  From hotels and restaurants to coffee shops and tea stalls, all shut their businesses down. Daily commuters, by bus, train, and ferry stop all of a sudden. No shopping, no celebration, nothing: just stay home, stay safe.

Staying just at my home, inside my room, drives me crazy. I have no job, no savings, or no property to sell up and feed myself. I just teach English language to some of the students in my village where I set up an English language coaching centre. I teach them privately. They can’t pay me much, and some of them don’t pay me at all, or I don’t ask because they are from the under privileged-the poorest of the poor. Now, the coaching centre is shut down and I have nothing to eat if it continues for three months. My worries grow, disappointments go up, and I am about to cry out loud but can’t.

After a couple of days in my home quarantine, I really became sick physically. I start sneezing, coughing, and growing mild fever. Thinking about what's happening to me, I try to stay positive. I assume that these are the problems of seasonal flu. I stay calm because if I report they will take me to isolation where there is no treatment at this moment. On top of that, I might be infected from all those who are already infected. I buy some paracetamol, some dihydrochloride, and cough relieving tablets. I complain nothing. I tell everyone in my family that I am fine and this  is a seasonal flu. They understand and believe me because they have seen my symptoms long before Covid-19.

However, my body temperature goes up and my condition worsens. I scroll down my facebook news feed and the horrible stories from France, Spain, Italy, and New York shock me. It intensifies my worry, yet I don’t expose my worry to my family thinking they will panic and it may bring disaster upon the entire family. Inside, I am crying. Tears roll down while looking at the vegetable patch through the window. I accept that I am going to die soon. I button up myself, take preparation to embrace the worst of it, death. Leaning against the pillow, I feel pity for myself. I feel it because people will know I smoke and lead a very undisciplined life. They will have no sympathy for me, a college dropout, who does nothing for his elderly parents. People will know that I don’t keep my words each time I promise them. They will no longer be sad for a useless vagabond like me, so I keep sobbing. My pounding heart has all the replies of my mistrusts.

Suddenly, I discover myself. I wake up and walk out of my room. I sit on a couch in the veranda. I promise to myself that I give up smoking at this very moment, and do so right away. I don’t touch a single stick after that very moment. I wash my hand and come back to my room. I pull out David Copperfield from my bookshelf thinking that I may not have a second chance to read this unfinished, favourite memoir of Dickens. I read almost seven chapters.

Surprisingly, I start feeling good in both my body and mind. It grows my will power and I continue disciplining myself. I wrap myself up from spending time meaninglessly, scrolling down unnecessary newsfeeds in social media, and so on. Since I am to stay at home all day and night long, I make a daily routine and focus on it strictly. I stop sneezing, my cough disappears, and body temperature drops to normalcy. All these happen like a miracle. Yes, it is my seasonal flu and I don’t worry about it.
Here I am without cigarettes for more than two weeks now. I have done a tremendous thing by quitting the cigarette. I have prepared three hand notes for my students, studied some of my favourite authors like John Steinbeck, and noted some historical facts around the world. My real experience is that pandemic has brought a great change to my life.

The writer can be contacted at: karimreza584@gmail.com

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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