Half of the world is under lockdown. Ghost towns, deserted streets, closed markets and quiet roads are the new norm. A micro-organism, the novel corona virus, Covid 19 has brought almost the entire world to stand still. Business has come to grinding halt. Global economy is in ICU. One virus has shaken the world bringing the entire world to its knees.
What, we felt, could happen only in fiction is now a reality, more chilling than the fiction. There had been epidemics in which thousands of people perished, but that was in the realm of distant past. Plague, cholera, malaria, small pox, influenza, yellow fever used to be the mass killers. In recent years there have been outbreaks of Encephalitis, Avian flu, Swine flu, Zika virus, Nipah virus and other diseases like Ebola killing hundreds of people. But this one is unprecedented; the outbreak of the novel corona virus is unmatched in scale, speed and spread covering all the continents except for Antarctic, spreading to almost every country, big or small, rich or poor, developed or developing. The sheer scale is unnerving. Covid 19 has caused unspeakable misery.
India is in complete lock-down. We are in house-arrest, confined to the four walls. Getting holed-up in houses can really be stressful, frustrating and depressing. In these testing times, let us make peace with the isolation. Social distancing, but definitely not emotional distancing! We can’t meet our loved ones, but can stay connected on phone or through social media. While other things are locked down, our creativity, our imagination is not. We can indulge in hobbies, dabble in creativity or rustle up something new in the kitchen. We can play indoor games; spend time in reading and writing. While for many it is a problem of plenty, how to while away time during home quarantine, it is a challenging time for most Indian women belonging to the middle class who are stressed in the absence of domestic help. Everyone in the family must pitch in to do the household chores.
Instead of cribbing about our house arrest, we must spare a thought for the underprivileged, marginalized sections of the society, the daily wage-earners – lakhs of people who have lost their livelihood. We must realize how privileged we are to have the comfort of home. We ought to be grateful that we are well stacked with groceries; that we have little to worry about food or money. Let us count our blessings, live in gratitude, value more and complain less.
If the virus is infectious, panic is no less contagious. It may lead to paranoia of pandemic scale. Let the faith rule over fear. It is the faith that will make it easier for us to sail through the crisis. The situation is grim right now, the scenario is depressing, but, no matter how difficult the situation is, this too will pass, humanity will survive. Together we will fight it out and defeat Covid 19. After all, it not for the first time that the world has faced epidemics and come out of crisis. The positive news is China, the epicenter of the outbreak, has been able to control it and is heading towards normalcy. Scientists all over the world are working hard to develop vaccination and medicine for the disease. The fact that in 80% of the cases symptoms are mild/ moderate requiring no hospitalization gives a lot of hope. Let us not be bogged down by the numbers of infected persons, but also consider thousands who have recovered.
It is time to remember, if winter comes, spring cannot be far away. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. To quote Victor Hugo from Les Misérables “Even the darkest night will end and the Sun will rise.”
And when we come out of the crisis, hope the man is gentler and more humble than before.
(Published in Momspresso on April 1, 2020)