BENGALURU: It all started with an innocuous phone call in the morning. Usually if the bells toll in the morning it’s invariably for me. I am fondly referred to as ‘phone crone’ by my family. I keep in touch with people and my morning routine involves calling my two besties and having a quick (or lengthy chat) with them depending on our respective schedules during the day. We chat, laugh, ask for advice, vent and invariably end the conversation because of time constraints or because we are rushing off to work, attending to our businesses, con-calls… you get the drift. But now there is silence.
I try to answer with a cheery wisecrack or a false sense of bravado which I don’t feel, but this morning I ran out of excuses. When faced with a generic question of ‘how are you?’ I had nothing to say! Not even a cheeky ‘the same as yesterday’ left my lips. I had truly tapped out on my conversational skills. ‘Rambunctious Rubi’ had acquiesced to a ‘Resigned Rubi’!
Ever since the lockdown started, there has been a marked difference in the psyche of people. Initially there was a feeling of euphoria, with everyone feeling positive. Most of us had the feeling that it happens to everyone else, not us.
After all, we are Indians with an invincible immune system and a never-say-die attitude. We have battled and conquered diseases and politicians, poverty, corruption and abysmal health care, and yet we are constantly referred to as a ‘super-power’ by our wily leaders, and we believed it! Slowly as we started coming to terms with the hopeless economic conundrum and the fact that no one cared, we realised that we were truly on our own, notwithstanding the ‘be vocal, think local’ propaganda, which only translates into ‘go figure it out for yourselves’! This type of attitude has led to a silent paranoia, and the fear in our demeanour is almost palpable.
We are social beings and being ‘prisoners’ in our own houses is abnormal. There is no mental or social stimulation and one cannot help either talking or thinking about the dreaded virus. Since there are no stipulated guidelines laid down especially in Bangalore, many people still (foolishly) assume that since everything is open, it’s perfectly safe to wear one’s stilettos and woefully inadequate protective gear and generally step out just to experience some semblance of normalcy and hopefully to do some type of business. The (un)gainfully employed are desperately clutching on their jobs, valiantly trying to make do with their drastically cut salaries and the rest of us are hoping against hope that we are not risking our lives by tentatively trying to generate some form of economic respite. All this in the shadow of empty government sloganeering without an iota of truth in it!
Before it was masks and sanitisers, now pulse oximeters and oxygen generating machines are flying off the shelves. Every house has at least one expert who will smugly rattle off information on numbers and some new highfalutin machine in the market which can do everything except operate on someone by itself! I live in the prestigious CBD area in Bangalore and we hear whispers of new Covid-9 cases every day. Sadly enough, the news isn’t coming from responsible people in the government but from our security personnel who have their ears firmly glued to the ground.
We are surrounded with high-end restaurants, malls, commercial and retail outlets merrily welcoming the ‘stillettowallas and discount seekers’. Of course, we are also surrounded by the highest excise moolah generators… the mighty booze shops, and our erstwhile leaders cannot afford to lose that income, especially with elections round the corner.So then, we come back to a very important question which no one seems to have an answer to… Who gives a damn about us?