As a public figure, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh is no stranger to criticism, mockery and ridicule from members of the public. It comes with the job.
But when the minister, who has been at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 from day one, finds himself the butt of memes and public scorn for telling the nation that he wept after observing a lack of adherence to the protocols that can save lives, we must sit up and wonder if the heart of the nation is beating right.
At a time when Trinidad and Tobago is experiencing its worse wave of COVID-19 cases and the loss of many lives each day, Minister Deyalsingh opened up about how he felt during a news conference on Friday.
He had been driving along Independence Square where he saw people doing exactly what they have been told ad nauseum not to do – wearing their masks wrongly, liming without social distancing.
What Minister Deyalsingh was witnessing, quite frankly, were more deaths in the making. He was looking at the continuation of people falling ill and more people taking the virus to others who are doing the right things to keep themselves safe.
As the man at the helm, this is understandably heartbreaking. Minister Deyalsingh, above all, carries the burden of the health of the nation and every death, ultimately, is also a cross he must bear.
It is upsetting, therefore, that some could take the minister’s feelings so much for granted, that they see it fit to publicly mock and ridicule him with memes, social media posts and derogatory comments across the airwaves.
We wish to remind those who saw this as the perfect opportunity for merry-making, that Minister Deyalsingh is not the only person crying today.
In just 10 days this month, 42 people have died from COVID-19, with a record 8 deaths reported yesterday alone.
In the past week, two families went public with the loss of more than one person from the virus.
The fear that grips families when a loved one is taken away to hospital is just the beginning of the pain for many.
That unwanted call to say that a loved one has died at hospital is a blow that often shatters all strength and tosses families into immense grief. This, many times, is followed by further distress in trying to pick up the pieces and manage without them. What does one do when the person who passes is the main breadwinner and protector of the household?
If Minister Deyalsingh’s tears were borne out of the failure of others to help prevent just what we’ve described, then we too cry with him.
In the words of Winston Churchill, we can only offer our “blood, toil, tears and sweat” in this war against a monstrous virus.
Those who took this path must reflect on the seriousness of the COVID-19 problem and we encourage the minister to take strength from the majority of us, the right-thinking citizens who bear with him the pain of the situation and offer our resolve to do what’s best to end it.
It takes all of us to fight with one sole focus – defeating this monstrous virus.
This, most certainly, is no laughing matter.