Guest column: Don’t dare the devil in times of coronavirus!
Peek-a-boo! My long lost friend was at the door, materialising from anywhere, just like olden times, to give me a surprise. The apathy of corona times had hit me, but she seemed oblivious to the dangers that lurked.
In normal circumstances, I would have rushed to embrace her, but here I stood frozen, flustered, and quite taken aback by her presence. I almost hated myself for being so cold and felt guilty that perhaps I was overreacting to the threat of the pandemic. To my relief, better sense prevailed upon her, as she was wearing a mask, and she did not try to come close.
Corona had arrived with a bang in our lives, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Millions fell like a pack of cards. The Covid warriors fought tooth and nail, putting their health and lives at stake to save others. The whole world saluted their tireless efforts.
Several months of lockdown had engendered a feeling of restlessness. This gave rise to a new breed of combatants whose fight was not against coronavirus, but against anyone who stopped them from doing what they wanted to. Those daredevils were living on a two-week cyclic schedule, playing hide and seek with the virus and taking their chances. They were freely mingling in groups, and posting deeds of their bravado on all social platforms. They believed that the infection could not come from close friends and family members.
The virus must have felt even more insulted by their devil-may-care attitude than it would have done during the lockdown.
My friend, like many others, had also “let go”. The increasing numbers were bothering her too, but what troubled her more was the thought of staying confined indoors. She had stopped watching the news, and she jested, “This lockdown has given me a trampoline head. Now all the facts and figures conveniently bounce off my senses.”
In the same breath, she asked me why I had been hiding. To this, I answered that I was keeping my distance so that I did not go around helping the virus do its job of infecting people. Nodding in amusement she called me paranoid and invited me for a little tour of the city: “Come with me,” she continued, “the markets are bustling, people are dining out, and the salons have opened. What’s stopping you?”
I too was undergoing a severe bout of frustration in not being able to move around freely. What stopped me was the fact that with each passing day, the number of cases was rising, especially in India. Community spread was rampant, and we were inching towards the peak.
I could see that the only reason why the markets had been allowed to reopen was to boost the dwindling economy, and not because the fear of infection had diminished.
The fact that I could be a carrier and pass on the infection to others even though I did not have the symptoms was scary. So, by restraining myself, I was doing a service unto others.
It was the travesty of times that my friend and I fell on either side of the argument. I empathised with her and gently told her that this was a battle we could not afford to lose, so we had better not get into one. It was in our own interest to play safe, and stay safe.