I am a writer, a storyteller of sorts and yet, when I look around, all I see is confusion, despondency, all I encounter is multiple questions, very few answers and stories which have no end. There are lessons to be learnt, but when will this never-ending chapter approach its final few pages?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed India, it has changed Indians, it has brought anarchy, it has brought a semblance of stagnation and it has brought a plethora of questions which are gaping at us and we are simply staring at them. No one has answers, no seems to have solutions and yet, we are quiet, ready to take each day as it comes. We wake up, dawdle through the day, become despondent as the day draws to a close and then shrivel away cajoling sleep to pause the misery for the day.
Daily scramble of the daily workers
All the while, the migrant workers, the daily-wage labourers, the farmers are figuring out how to scramble to get that meal, that glimpse of money, that sense of a cool summer bridge whisking away miseries.
“It seems to be quite distant, have not met my family for around 40 days now. Spend my day and night here. Whatever I earn, I send them, what else can I offer,” the security guard in my apartment mutters these words to me.
What else can I offer? What else can anyone offer?
Perhaps sympathy, perhaps empathy, perhaps just let them be. This virus has put to bed all the boastful announcements of the human race being superior, it has kicked us in the gut and has reminded us of how frail we are physically, how frail and vulnerable the economy around us is, how the daily routine was nothing more than a mere rat race which has been terminated without notice. It has asked us our worth, it has isolated us from people who were protecting us – from friends, family and neighbours. It questions our very existence, the queries are all there, we are still blinking, but do we have the answers?
Will there ever be light?
We were taught, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, but this tunnel is pitch dark and this tunnel is hollow, long and damp. How long can we drag ourselves to see that light, how long before we start questioning even the very basics of what we were taught? This virus is a mix of uncertainty and danger – this mix is dangerous, this mix erases civilisations, this mix now questions us!
There was a sense of pride in our country, in our working stations, in our stature in society. Chests were puffed out, hair neatly combed, there was a coffee waiting to be sipped when the Coronavirus came trampling along and saw no such ‘elite’ mannerisms. You might belong to any country, any race, any religion, any social strata – you are all equally fallible.
When this ends and if this ends, the world might not be the same again. There might be a greater sense of unity, better cohesion, the yearning to walk together. When everything has been jolted together, everything will need to gallop along together to counter the threat.
“I have understood the importance of my domestic help, the importance of the guy who drives me in his cab. That guy who gave me food any time of the day, I have understood their pain, I have understood that in my own self-occupied world, I was all alone and these months have taught me, being alone is romantic only when your stomach is full and the world around is happy,” said a friend, who had to look at biscuits to fill his stomach for the third time in a week.
Our psyche has changed, it is growing, we have the opportunity to pause, breathe and then possibly walk again. When this walk turns into a jog and then breaks into a sprint, we have to make sure we are clutching on to people and we are their support and ask them to accompany us.
And as Franklin D. Roosevelt said: “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”