Kolkata: Haradhan Saha (110), a resident of Saraswatiganj village in West Bengal’s West Burdwan district, has seen all kinds of calamities – both natural and manmade – such as an epidemic, famine, deaths, and untold devastation in his long and eventful life.
But even for this wizened centenarian, the ongoing nationwide lockdown that has been enforced to prevent the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I’ve have seen the devastating Bengal famine in the 1940s and the smallpox epidemic that had struck in 1974. Then, in between, there was a cholera outbreak too. But, the ongoing lockdown is a first for me, where people have to compulsorily remain indoors for over one and a half months,” said Saha.
“Our village had little access to healthcare when the smallpox epidemic occurred over four decades ago. I lost one of my close friends to smallpox, as medical science was not all that advanced,” he reminisced.
He is cautiously optimistic that a vaccine could be discovered soon to save millions of lives across the world, who are at risk because of Covid-19.
“Medical science is so advanced these days. Why can’t we find a vaccine for this disease? I hope scientists will find a cure soon to prevent more deaths,” he added.
The ripe old age hasn’t taken much toll on Saha’s health apart from partial deafness.
He still visits the local temple daily and strikes up a conversation with the village folks. “I’m missing our daily adda because of the ongoing lockdown restrictions. I’m praying that the restrictions are eased soon, as I desperately want to go out. I even walked to the poll booth during the last general elections, even though the polling agents had arranged a vehicle for me. Walking keeps me fit,” the centenarian added.
Saha had lost his wife around three decades ago. The father of 11 children also suffered another loss a few years ago, when his eldest son died.