Love in the time of Corona – Srabanti Sen

Cover: Business Standard

First of all, my apologies for not being able to resist myself from using the title of one of the world’s bestselling books, like this. However, if you still agree to read further, I can assure that except the first few words of it, there has been no attempt of imitation, which obviously is beyond my capacity or even audacity too. The idea only cropped up when few days back I was hearing the incident. The Corona already landed in India. The initial days, people were unsure about how to confront it and the possibility of a lock down or curfew was being foreseen. I heard about this girl, who defying all the threats, went all over to the Airport to meet her Pilot boyfriend arriving in town! Love indeed does not recognize Corrona. It’s otherwise, that Corrona does not recognize love either and it’s only by luck’s favour that the lovebirds are spared of it’s wink.

Also, by this I am not set to undermine the seriousness of the issue that the Virus has suddenly inflicted on our lives. The human lives around the world are jeopardized. Men are caged as in zoo in fear of getting affected or even worse, spreading further. People, elderly, youths, children, rich, famous, royals, poor, destitute are suffering, with luckier few receiving treatments and others not. Human beings all over the world have reduced to mere numbers, no. of infected persons, no. of deaths, the figures only worsening in the statistical sites. In India, we all are at a fix. We have read about or seen in movies and heard from the elders about the breaking of epidemics like Plague or Cholera, the close down during Emergency, blackouts during World Wars. But no living being on earth had ever experienced such deadliest and widespread impact as that of the Covid 19 Novel Corona Virus involving around all the countries and millions of people worldwide.

India has embraced the Lock down, supposedly the only possible effort to restrict the spread of the droplet virus, since 22nd of March 2020, the period being extended from 7 to 21 days as the infection was spreading its tentacles. The technical details are available throughout the internet and I have no intension of any repetition. I just would like to share certain realizations and observations attained during the period of unexpected free time.

In India, crave for power, fame, position and status are immense and are also deaf and blind. India is a densely populated country and the thoughtless interferences of the rich and famous, position holders, who’s whos, religious spearheads have made the task of constraining people from socially mixing and gathering all the more difficult for administration. Like all other occasions, they thought holding certain posts or titles or belonging to certain families or creed will empower them with inbuilt antiviruses. But alas! How they were proven wrong. And how Corona had identified the actual viruses of the society! However, as always, the price is being paid by the commoners by becoming hopeless victims to the spread of infection.

We have known that people in this part are crazy about their food and the extent is being evident only now. They would rather die in Corona than having to go simple with food. Even in this lockdown phase, with whatever little market is opening, there are hoards of people every single day to buy unusually huge quantities of food, vegetables, staples, fish, meat and whatever available under the Sun, ignoring the increasing chance of infecting or getting infected through the crowd. Panic buying till a certain extent is still understandable. But is this the real time for food luxury? Flaunting new dishes in social media, showing off with photos and recipes, in times when a major, and I repeat, a Major section of people – the daily wagers, Rickshaw pullers, auto-rickshaw drivers, small time traders and their families are going to bed with hunger or heading towards it? Will we ever realize that there are certainly more in life than Mach and Misti?

Bengalis cannot stay away from creative and performing art forms. The more than enough free time had seen an influx of the established and hidden talents. Music, Dance, Recitation, Story telling – social media and online channels are really having a busy time. The best thing coming out is quality time spending, both while performing and viewing through which a number of good works are surfacing. Then ofcourse there are innumerable messages, forwards, weird challenges, memes. Although puritans may disagree, a controlled portion of it may be indulged for good. Sometimes, these sorts help to bring out the child from even the strictest person, otherwise suppressed deep within. Moreover, how one can ignore the young boy or girl posting tiktok videos one time and at the other arranging a community kitchen, with their college friends, for the footpath dwellers and beggars in and around? Did you say whims? Let there be more such whims – the world looks a little more beautiful in this.

Corona has also invoked the humanity amongst people. Again quoting from one of the forwarding message doing rounds, love could not bring people together all these days, fear of the death could. Several communities, students, NGOs, even certain commercial organizations and restaurants have come forward together with the Government to provide food, medicine and essential commodities to the needy, old and children or feeding the stray dogs and cats too. The news of children offering help with their savings of piggy banks and youths their pocket moneys have raised hope of seeing a tomorrow with a heart. Distancing socially does not necessarily create distances in human minds after all.

Finally I would like to bring up a topic without which no forum, no discussion is complete today. It is perhaps the biggest irony – the pollution level in the environment has reduced to an unbelievable low in last few days. The birds are singing again, butterflies are coming out of their hidings, blue of the sky is peeping through the layers of grey. Is this the Mother Earth’s punishment to her unruly offsprings who had suffocated her in planned and unplanned ways for centuries and ages? Will we ever learn from it or let the Mother suffer further to extinction with all her beings, once this is over?

Kudos to the doctors, nursing staff, paramedics and all the support staff who are ignoring their own exposure to the threats of the disease and fighting relentlessly, mostly without adequate equipments, to save the victims. For once let us keep aside all our complaints and applaud them, support them with all our heart not merely banging the utensils for a good FB post. Stay safe friends..all you there on the other side of the net..Stay at home. Life has given us an opportunity to stop the mindless race for a while, to ponder over ourselves, to realize there are other people at our home, to look at the forgotten wall colour or the terrace. Life is more humane and precious than what we had thought till now… Till we meet again in person..soon.

Cover: Business Standard