The Mask(ing) challenge  


When asked how prepared she is to cope with the second wave of the coronavirus, a Punjaban answers gleefully that she is all geared up with the matching masks ready to go with every suit.’ Well! It is one of those WhatsApp jokes taking a dig at women. Of course, an exaggeration but not completely divorced from reality.

Available in myriad colours, designs and shapes, masks have emerged as a new fashion accessory to be flaunted. Every garment brand has come out with its own mask line being displayed in every store. Mask is a protective shield against the virus, but for many, the emphasis is elsewhere. It is a fact that most masks that we wear are not three-ply as per the specifications.


While experts may recommend double masks in crowded places where social distancing is a challenge, many go masks-less giving free run to the virus. The second Covid -19 wave is lashing the country, but many   care two hoots about Covid protocol, have thrown  caution and masks to the winds. To beat this deadly wave, we ought to follow Covid appropriate behavior. We have no option but to wear mask in public, or, I may say bear with the mask, howsoever, uncomfortable it may be. Universal masking in public is necessary, but despite danda and fines, there are dare-devils in public places shorn of their masks risking their own life and that of others. Indeed a challenge for the administration to ensure people wear mask!


The reality is hardly anyone wears the mask properly to cover the mouth and nose. For the majority mask is down, resting comfortably on their chin or hanging from the neck. There are some who prefer to dangle their mask on one ear; others keep rotating their mask with their finger.  Hats off to the ingenuity of our people to have discovered innovative uses of masks! I saw a person using his mask as a handkerchief to wipe his sweat. The most outstanding was the use of mask by a rickshaw puller to cover his eyes as he slept with his mouth wide open in a crowded market place.


The other day when I entered a grocery shop, the owner, as usual, had his mask slid on his chin. I signaled him to pull it back on his mouth. He obliged. His helper was sans his mask. I asked him, “Where is your mask?” “I have one,” he grinned as he took out a dirty crumpled mask to cover his mouth. At least he complied with my request, but there are many who refuse to listen. “There is no corona, sharona,” is how our door to door garbage collector dismissed my plea when I confronted him for not wearing a mask.


I could hardly argue with him. ‘Where is the pandemic?’ I mused. If the images of thousands attending election rallies and lakhs taking a dip in the Ganga at Kumbh without social distancing and masks are anything to go by, the country cannot be in the grip of a serious health crisis. At least, this is the signal people got.

(Published in The Tribune as MIDDLE on 22 April 2021)


15 Replies to “The Mask(ing) challenge  ”

  1. Is the Maski( ing) challenge is so challenge (ing) that we can invite Corona at the cost of our own lives. Look at the Kumbh Mela & Election Congregations. So disdainful , utter disregard of Humanity. Shameful for one and all from commoners to intelligentsia
    Our hearts really bleed at the sad state of affairs for curing & preventing Corona in India

    News Bulletin’s screaming words HA HA KAR MACH HA Let’s all get together in challenging times to save lives of one and all.
    Knowingly or unknowingly we wiped out many species. Let’s ‘ Save our Specie ‘
    Rama your suggestions of masking & vaccination are so pertinent now. Hope and pray that better sense prevails amongst us

    1. Absolutely , it is unprecedented ..the massive second wave more like tsunami .. unimaginable tragedy unfolding..oxygen shortage..
      And somewhere we have faltered – if the citizens have behaved callously , the government also cannot be absolved of its responsibility. Indeed shameful has been the way political rallies have been organized throwing caution to winds an now Kumbh.. The effect of these have yet to unfold…
      Pray the situation improves soon

  2. A brilliant article covering the attitude and level of seriousness of various categories of people towards any of the state directives; be that for our own life protection. What impresses is the art of conveying the message to its last depth with humour and captivating expression.
    Wonderful indeed !!

    1. Thank you so much Kamini, feels great to be appreciated by your friends.
      I must say your comment is so wonderful ..
      Yes dear, people have been callous.Of course there could be various reasons for the current tsunami of cases, mutants of the virus but had we been following Covid protocol there won’t have been a catastrophe of this magnitude.

  3. If people start following the Covid-19 protocol of masking properly, social distancing and sanitising their hands regularly along with getting themselves vaccinated,this Pandemic problem can be solved to a large extent.
    When our leaders do not follow the Covid-19 protocol, it encourages the common people to flaunt the rules. When the politicians are attending the rallies and holy dips. they cannot enforce the laws on general public.
    Many of the Indians have a very casual attitude about Corona virus. They think that there may be people falling sick and dying but nothing is going to happen to them. For these people the only measure to be taken is “ curfew and lockdown “ so that stay in their homes.
    As always I appreciate the way you deal with different situations.

    1. Absolutely Mrs Rahi! We must follow Covid appropriate behaviour but many of us are casual and callous. And, of course, when large religious gatherings are allowed , massive political rallies take place, people tend to get a wrong signal. Monumental failure of leadership!

  4. Very well written,madam.You have observed public behaviour very minutely and then produced in very interesting form.
    We have to follow covid protocol,till everything normalise, no other way.
    It is ‘long to go before I sleep’

    1. So happy to hear from you Garima… rather after a long time .. reassuring that all is good at your end.
      yes, as it appears masks are going to be a part of attire for a long time ..
      No option but to follow covid appropriate bevaviour including proper wearing of masks.
      Stay safe, stay blessed.

  5. As usual ,an impressive treatment of a very serious subject spiced with your unique signature humor.

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