We are on the last day of May. I began this diary on 24th March. The days slipped by as I got busy increasing the work hours from home and then at the end of the day spend time gathering my observations on the day and these times we are living through. I do not know yet where this lockdown diary ends. Perhaps, in a true Indian style, I might begin by dropping the count and gradually exit with writing shorter and shorter entries on these days. This deceit my country knows well. Teaches well.
In Wardha, the season’s first rain has arrived. As the sun set over the Hindi University’s hillock, droplets began falling accompanied by rumbling of clouds. A typical monsoon show! In this part of the country, rain doesn’t hint. It announces itself in grand notes. The falling drops intensify as groups of birds fly across the roofs of concrete blocks of houses. The unremarkable housing sprawl of our neighbourhood is made noteworthy and picturesque with this monsoon sound and light show. Meanwhile, the sun turns into a big disc of soft yet intense glow and begins its quick disappearance. Another typical sight in Central India. Kipling got this right when he set the Jungle Book in the forests not very far from here.
The Chief Minister of the state was on TV later in the evening, to speak of exit from the lockdown. Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus infections in the country. The national priority has been to resume life and work across the country while exiting gradually from the lockdown. I am no longer sure what that means given the fact that the number of infections in India continue to rise. In the big picture, it stands seventh in the total number of infections in the world. It will not be a surprise if the country moves up on the list given that trains are about to resume on its massive network. The trains will single handedly mix the population up. We should be hitting 200,000 cases this week. The speculation on disease and death does not strike as odd anymore.
An officer from the district’s disease monitoring cell visited home to check on my status since I had flown in from Bengaluru. He leaves after taking a photo and updating it on a WhatsApp group probably set up to coordinate Covid-19 surveillance. It is four days since I have arrived. Until now, the district administration’s Covid-19 surveillance seems well coordinated and effective. Early detection and early response is an effective long term strategy. However, in contexts of weak state capacity as ours, I am not sure how long this can last. The fatigue in enforcement agencies has already built up. It is a matter of time that the health department will follow.
This pandemic has churned the world in unanticipated ways. The changes it has led to, across all aspects of personal, professional and environmental lives we live, are overwhelming us in a variety of ways. For now, these changes still look within our ability to comprehend and cope. Not sure what the weeks ahead hold.