Last year my husband (my then boyfriend) and I after much discussion, accepted the offer of going to Saudi Arabia. But he was concerned about my quality of life which I would gain by living there, which restricts women from doing a lot of things and making them do a lot things which might not interest them. Being an independent, modern, to-the-day woman that I am, not only my husband but my parents, friends all seemed to be concerned. There were unasked solutions like, why don’t you guys go to Dubai or why don’t you just stay back here or stay not more than a year etc etc. To be honest, I had no issues.
The major concerns were, wearing a burkha and I was elated when I wore it the first time. Yes it sounded strange to many people but I had no problem in wearing a burkha over my clothes. Being an expat I am not forced to cover my head or face, so I was just happy. Burkha made me look equal and those prying eyes (which I am sure we all have faced in India) were only looking at my not-so-interesting face. And the major bonus is, I don’t have to iron my clothes anymore (being the lazy one).
I am not allowed to ride or drive and should always be in a company of a male, here it is my husband. That came as a disappoint to me as I was almost outside the house back in India but the idea of having my husband’s company to go outside was a relief, as he would have made me do all shopping by myself, watching T.V. Now more than me, I guess he is stuck!
So all and all, it has been a good few days here. A country which is feared back in India doesn’t scare me anymore. Yes, culturally it is different but I respect every culture every human being follows so the issues of adjusting in Saudi Arabia didn’t seem an issue at all.
So, when I was having a jolly ride here, roaming in malls, shopping extensively (that’s what most people do here as entertainment quotient is zero for Indians) suddenly I was held back. Yes, there is a major problem in Saudi Arabia which is making me scared to be here anymore. I thought I can bend myself to anything but the fact is seeping in. And that is, MERS.
MERS knows as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, is caused by Corona Virus. The same family of virus which causes common cold and flu like symptoms. So why should I fear this? As MERS was originally spread from camels (they are still hoping on camels, yet not being sure) this group of corona virus is not responding to any treatment. No vaccinations, no medications. But if the immune system is strong enough then a person can fight it back and ends with just being common cold. Well, if he/she has not strengthened his immune system over years then he/she is at the risk of having pneumonia, kidney failure and ultimately death.
Recently, 169 people have died from MERS amongst 529 recorded cases in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Many more might have caught MERS which ended up as common cold and hence not knocked the doors of a hospital. Now MERS have been transmitted to many other countries like USA, UK and hoping they would find a cure to this deadly virus whose mode of transmission is still a mystery. I see lot of people wearing masks and roaming around in malls, but as per reports even masks won’t stop MERS from spreading.
The maximum multiplication of MERS cases has happened in the health care units, which scares me even more as I am planning to work in hospitals in the near future. Sitting at home all day would suck the soul out of me and work would always keep me locked up in a cell of fear.
Today even when I sneeze once, my heart rate accelerates and it screams out loud, go back to India, go back to India and hell, just go back to India. Yes, we don’t leave a country because of a disease. Be it chikungunya or H1N1, our country has seen some deadly diseases and I stayed back. But this is scary as this is not my country, not my doctors who have seen me since childhood, no family support except my husband being at 100% risk.
What to do? Can I go back? I can’t!!! Eating healthy food, building up the immune system seems to be the only solution. So guys before any deadly disease strikes our country be prepared. Eat healthy, exercise well, give up on junk, give up on smoking and alcohol and stay fit. We might not be smart enough to eradicate a disease but we can protect ourselves from it. Can’t we?