Corona times. Difficult times. Unforeseen times and conditions. Too much has been and is being written on the subject for much novel thought to be added to the stockpile. Gallows humour on social media abounds. Stoicism, wit, clever double entendres and smart memes keep you amused on your WhatsApp groups, Facebook and Twitter, as you put up with only the third day of what may turn out to be a longer than 21 day lockdown. A semblance of sanity, ironically, is found in humour and dark wit, some of which portends an apocalypse. Strange indeed is human resilience, forbearance and capacity to accept, what till the other day would have seemed straight out of medical doomsday thrillers like Contagion or Last Man on Earth.
Who, for example, would have thought a week back that the skies would not see aeroplanes, the rails be bereft of trains or the roads shorn of public transport? Anyone suggesting so would have been mocked and laughed out of a gathering. Or, closer home, your own financial savings, so painfully accumulated over years, and most wisely ‘invested’, would give you negative returns – and if things keep going further south, maybe even turn to be dud investments. Or, migrant labor in our big cities having to virtually forage for their next meal and trying, in a desperate situation, to head back to their native places on foot, when there is no public transport. There are so many other eventualities and scenarios that were literally unthinkable ten days back. So indeed… uncertain times… difficult times.
Social distancing, a freshly minted term, unheard of till recently, is the buzzword. It is actually an oxymoron if you look at it closely enough…if you are social, you are close! If you are distant, you are unsocial. You can’t really argue with these language niceties, and that’s not the idea either. But the only panacea against
this invisible, yet so potent new enemy, is…. stay away. All our humongous scientific and technological advancements in this 21st century have actually fallen flat in the face of this microcosm, this killer to beat all killers. As an aside, one cannot help but observe if science has invested more in destruction of life than its preservation, if it has failed mankind in its worst hour of need…and so on. But that’s a debate for another time…healthier times, hopefully.
Well, the world is fighting… fighting to live and tell the tale another day. A generation comprising Millennials, GenY and GenZ, which has never seen want, which has never lived in deprivation, which has treated school as a haven, may find it difficult to order a pizza on line, or to take the hourly coffee break to which it has got accustomed, or the must-have Friday evening hangouts…and more. This is only metaphorical and not to make light of their plight. They are being hit hard in so many ways. They worry.
But what of us…the Baby Boomers…the 60s generation which grew up in scarcity and dearth…who invested in relationships…who bruised their knees and elbows in playfields without being rushed to the ER, who got caned on the knuckles in class (and took pride in not crying), who read books…We are being told by Covid 19 to stay away from those that we love if we wish to survive… at a time when we need to care most and be with our loved ones. We are looking out for our parents – a generation far removed from societal pulls and pressures…and the internet, as well as our children… the impatient, impetuous and even irascible, tech-spurred breed which may want to shoo away Corona with its trademark, dismissive, middle finger gesture. Only Covid 19 doesn’t scare easy. So all of us, in our own ways, worry… even as we find, deep within our emotional reserves, means and ways to respond to this pesky out-of-the-blue (actually, out-of-China) menace.
Well, as I said, enough has been written and said. The little that remains to be said is that I am hard put to accept that in these grim times, when one does not know if he/she will even live to revel in and tell tales of the times we went through, whether asking me to ‘stay away’ as the only means to survive poses more questions than it answers. This is when sharing, caring and sticking out together… metaphorically, if not literally…matters more than it ever did. A conundrum, no doubt. Much as every fibre of my old being cries out to mingle, I choose as an avid adherent of social and legal order, to stay away.
So, I wrap up with the party line…. for the very survival of those you love, do not mingle with them. Not for now, at any rate. The several extant generations will view this as they invariably must… from the prism of their own take on life and relationships. But the bottomline screams out loud…if you care enough, stay home, stay safe and stay away.
God bless the corona victims, the corona warriors and the corona survivors. We shall overcome.
© Sharabh Pachory, 2020. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction
Cartoons and pictures from sources as indicated against each.