‘Can fight Covid, not starvation’
It is the 432nd day of the pandemic. Things lose meaning when they go on for long. The pandemic seems to be one such. The count is suffering the same fate. Yet, I keep at it. This is the only harmless continuity.
The mood right now is grim across the places I know and have been living in. The city I left behind has been struggling with Covid-19 deaths for over a month now. The town I came to is listed under the top 50 districts of concern for Covid-19 in the country. Quite a few families in the extended set, in distant towns and cities, have survived the infection or have lost someone to it.
In an unguarded moment, we saw ourselves strangely thankful that my grandparents passed away a little ahead of 2020 and were spared from this pandemic. Never knew that one could be thankful about losing someone. This brings home the point that most often situations and realities are relative.
‘Can fight covid, not starvation’ said a vendor at a city market in Aligarh. It is an apt summary of the second wave and probably the wave ahead. The lockdowns in the second wave haven’t been easy. Fourteen months of poor income and subdued living has taken every imaginable toll on the people.
In a country as linguistically diverse as this, there are a few words that have effortlessly embedded themselves into the lexicon of most languages – lockdown, mask, corona, sanitize, social distancing. It is a nation of parrots muttering these words by way of explanations for whatever they can or cannot do.
While the country convinces itself of the tapering of the second wave, the daily count of lives lost continues to be above 4000. There is less of every essential requirement to fight this pandemic – medicines, equipment, vaccines, healthcare personnel and hospitals.
The breathless opinion pieces and editorials prescribing what governments should do have come to a trickle. The country will muddle through as it always has.
There will be stories about ‘that year’. Of all sorts. Perhaps many will be about anxiety, loss and grief. Just the way Grandma had stories about some events that happened during her lifetime. The year of a famine was a turning point in hers. It changed her.
A generation later, this is for us.