From BC to AC: What Has Changed in Pandemic and What Has Not
Khyrunnisa A, a children's writer, famous for her comic character Butterfingers,in her introductory remarks at the 80th Rajagiri Round Table held on 16th February, Wednesday on Zoom Meet on the topic ,Satisyfing Relationships and Well Being In Post Pandemic World, talked humorously about three phases of Covid 19 namely, BC- Before Corona, DC-Curing Corona and AC-After Corona. She asks us whether to celebrate this pandemic which has brought about miseries to humans across the globe. She tags the virus as a 'democratic virus' because it did not spare anyone, but frenzily travelled to every nook and corner of the world to infect people. She also says that the virus was good enough not to spare people on the basis of hierarchy.
It was so powerful that it brought together heads of different countries who would have taken up arms had not been for the virus. How dare that China country to destabilize the whole world in the name of CORONA virus? The whole world was turned topsy-turvy. There was a cavalcade of unfamiliar ideas like quarantine, social distancing, isolation, sanitizing much to the chagrin. Alas, we have all become Lady Macbeths now, washing our hands eternally, the only difference is that we use a hand sanitizer instead of all the 'perfumes of Arabia'. Travel bans, home quarantine, work from home, online class, regular testing, gargling of hot water became the norm. We were terrified of outsiders and treated people infected as lepers. Corona has opened up a Pandora ’s Box of woes where all of us suffered.
Initially, the lockdown was an interesting phenomenon. As the name itself suggests, it was a 'novel' corona virus. People were wondering about the consequences. They sat securely inside their home and waged battle against the deadly virus. Children were delighted because they had no school. They treated every single day as holiday. No exams, no schools and all were promoted to the next class. What a joy! Children and their parents saw Covid as a messiah, their saviour.
She talks about the plight of teachers. Teachers are the most overworked of the species. They always have a hard life and during Corona days it took tolls on their career as well. They believed that teaching online would give them a respite but little did they know what awaited them the coming days. She gives us an example of what she has come across. So how are online classes like? There is a bench. One end is occupied by an old lady sitting in front of the laptop, studiously taking down notes. The other end there is a little boy lying upside down playing when he is actually supposed to attend his class. In this online mode of learning, it is the parents or grandparents who often learn while the children meander. They find it quite interesting; they mute their mike, turn off the video and disappear. The poor teacher keeps on saying and the smart children moves around freely.
Family members got some quality time together. At first they sat together, played together and ate together. But the celebration did not last for long. They started to get onto each other’s nerve. Their mental proximity was wider than their physical proximity. Now, quality time was spent with their gadgets. They were like 'waiting for Godot'. No one came, no one went. They sat on their couches chilling with their smart phones. They watched movie, ordered food or else worked. Buying new clothes and cosmetics became unnecessary. Who will wear lipsticks when one wears a mask?
Mask has become a shield to ward off corona virus. But it did not stupefy the virus. Everyone wears fancy masks and even children feels like a superhero by wearing mask. They feel prerogative because of the superhuman attributes provided by the mask. The virus became so troublesome that the hospitals were overcrowded with patients and many shunned from hospitals thinking that the virus would pounce on them and they will end up with actual disease. So, the leisurely visit to healthcare professionals dropped considerably.
When everyone started staying indoors, roads and streets were empty. There were no vehicles on road; no honking that pierced our ears. This led to a decrease in the pollution levels. In places like Delhi notorious for its pollution levels, you could see the sun and could breathe fresh air after a long time. There were also small creatures and birds from the forests walking fearlessly through roads. This was the time when nature also healed, the world became greener.
Yet, many people suffered during Corona. Businesses were closed, economy was badly hit and many lost their jobs. We could see the heart wrenching picture of migrant labourers walking thousands of kilometers to reach their native village when they lost their jobs in the cities. There was also the story of a tourist bus owner who decided to scrap his fleet of buses for a meager amount of forty-five rupees per kilo. Many near and dear ones passed away. Nobody could attend their funeral. Even the writer talks about losing eleven of her close relatives during Corona.
A survey result showed what people want exactly after Corona. They wanted to socialize- meet friends, chat and gossip, they wanted to meet family members. People desperately wanted to eat from their favourite restaurants. They wanted to attend big fat weddings and celebrations. After all aren’t we Indians? We love noisy celebrations. People wanted to travel without having to take tests and getting results. Have you felt so distressed when you see a cricket match being played without the cheering of audience? Immediately after Corona, many want to watch live matches from the stadium. People loved to groom. They wanted a good manicure, a haircut to look dashing after the corona days. Finally they wanted to be desperately out of the kangaroo case. They wanted to hug, to shake hands and to touch people, which they have forgotten over the past three years.
Let us hope for the best. Unlike the woes which came out from the Pandora ’s Box, let us cross our fingers for a hopeful future, when everything turns out the way it was.