I felt like a sitting duck. The rising cases of the deadly Coronavirus is indeed very disturbing. In a way, I am happy that it is just disturbing for me. I cannot even imagine what it is like to be infected and I never want to.
My son, who was busy bettering his bowling action as he swung his arms in the air, casually walked towards me. He saw my fingers tapping the keyboard while my eyes glued to the computer screen. That perhaps pulled him to look at the screen. He wasn’t reading aloud so; I didn’t expect that he actually was. After he finished, with his astonished look, he asked me a question.
“Papa, you are happy that Coronavirus is disturbing you?”
I laughed at his innocent interpretation of what I wrote. He was aware about this novice virus. Recently, he went through a session at his school where he was told about the benefits of washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Hence, I felt the need to clarify and explain what I meant.
He seemed satisfied with an explanation I gave and resumed to what he was occupied with before. I wondered what could satisfy those who are battling with this unbeknownst phenomenon out there.
In a way that virus has not just infected a few but all of us. Some were unfortunate to have contracted biologically and many of us, including me, mentally.
I read about it first a couple of months ago when I was on my way to Kolkata. I remember reading it in papers before boarding the flight. My folks had asked me to be careful. As long as its effect in India was concerned, I would say, it was at the very nascent stage. Not many people knew about it and I could sense by their confidence that it hadn’t reached us yet. As a matter of fact, I too took it casually at that point in time.
As we stepped into February, the spread picked up its speed and the news of many getting infected outside China made the headlines. Despite of being the neighboring country, India seemed to remain untouched. The experts who virtually gathered to debate on the news channels, shared their opinions from the small windows we see on the TV screen. Some attributed to the weather and some to the resistance that Indians have developed over the years, courtesy our irreverent habit or hygiene and peculiar way of living life. That of course is unacceptable globally. The foreign media even commented that it is good that the outbreak is not at large in India otherwise it will be difficult to control given the living condition and hygiene.
While the virus was strengthening its grip internationally, I went to Goa for a small family vacation. Inarguably, Goa remains to be the hub of foreign tourism. Every year, thousands from different countries travel to ‘Pearl of the Orient’. The month of October to March is reserved for tourism on which the locals thrive economically.
Till I returned WHO had announced this outbreak as Pandemic. India too had come into its grip with merely 20-25 cases throughout. Whereas the rest had seen tremendous surge in the numbers of infected. The outbreak spurted in the northern part of the country as some foreign nationals as well as native had been tested positive. The government took immediate control by quarantining those who were infected.
The city of Mumbai was yet far away from any detection. After my return, on the first weekend of March I met my friends for lunch and drinks in the town. I had heard about the shortages of masks and sanitizers in the city, the only identified weapon to prevent the contraction. Though questionable.
Since it was a casual and pleasure meet, we had lunch at the town’s renowned café. We ordered our food, a tower of beer and settled down chitchatting about the novice virus. In a moment, the waiter brought a vertically long cylindrical transparent tube-like container with the tap. The sight of chilled liquor inside was quite impressive and then he began to fill our glasses. While he did, the Chinese family including two kids, two women and a man walked-in and sat on the table next to ours. Any family walking in the restaurant and café isn’t an unusual sight, but in this case, the people who just got settled must have aroused the interest of the rest.
At one moment there were several pairs of eyes watching them. Each one of them from that family had worn the mask. I wouldn’t lie, for a moment even I felt the chill. Most of our minds were speculating whether they traveled recently before or post the outbreak. If it is before then no problem but what if they did after. However, the waiter didn’t hesitate at all. He did his job and provided what they asked for. Watching the normal interaction between them gave us a little confidence.
I resumed my conversation and discussed that we shouldn’t be inhuman during such a critical situation. We should understand the importance of life and shouldn’t venture out if at all we are infected and have the signs. That is our individual responsibility. Most importantly we should trust each other. Irrespective of the nationality or origin.
But do all know their responsibility. I doubt because of an instance that I read on the internet. A couple had returned from their honeymoon and were tested positive while screening at the airport. However, the woman escaped the eyes of the officials and what it said that she even deserted her spouse, traveled 800 kms and took shelter at her parent’s house. Not sure what triggered her to take that step but being an adult, she could have conducted herself responsibly. Hope she has an idea of the damage that she may have already inflicted on others, who may now pay for her negligence.
As the week passed by the fear and scare further tightened its grip. Each day the numbers kept on increasing. And in the midst of this crisis, the news about a few puny people who valued money over life surfaced. Several rackets were busted, where some pathetic people attempted to purposely hold the stock of masks and sanitizers. Their intention was obviously to profit from this calamity. I wonder, in such critical circumstances, some people simply fail to discern that not all opportunities are meant to cash-in.
We are at the stage where someday, we may hear about the breakthrough of this decade, a medicine that can help people to recover. Already two have succumbed to this virus in India. And on the brighter side, a few who were quarantined have got discharged upon recovery. Is there a guarantee that others too would get cured? Nobody knows that.
Today the most difficult question to answer is what do we do until then? While the brilliant minds are working arduously, round the clock, putting things together to create an antidote, we must comply to the directives issued by officials and the government. Unlike the past, I would say, the current government (state or central) can be seen taking all the preventive measures. There is no point panicking or to feel like a sitting duck; as I do or perhaps did. I agree, we are helpless as evidently the medical science is yet to find the solution, but rather than letting it dwell and drive our minds crazy, we can follow some of the basic things like wearing mask, carrying sanitizer – if possible, washing our hands carefully, staying clean etc.,
Fortunately, the government has already issued the directive of shutting the school till 31st March. Many companies are allowing employees to work from home, wherever possible. So, its time to remain patient and help to prevent the spread. If at all, any of us feel doubtful we should get ourselves checked and most importantly comply with the process. The least we can do for mankind.
As humans we must remember that WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.