These are not normal times, our lives hijacked by a virus. We have feared road accidents and volcanoes, earthquakes and cancer, we who thought heartbreaks fatal and sometimes idly wondered how we’d go in the end. But this humiliating and abrupt defeat at the hands of a quirky infection feels like an anti-climax. It makes one feel… not special, almost unloved.
We’ve been stopped in our tracks, frozen mid-stride, we don’t know what to do with our time, with our socialising skills, with our party genes, with our talent for mixing up things. Our hands dangle by our sides and our jokes seem desperate. Introverts and extroverts both sit it out at home, having stocked up on mundane groceries and reading material.
Never did we suspect assassins to be this silent, this invisible, this lethal, this faceless. The human race could be wiped out in a minute by a moody little monster. Our superiority complex when it comes to outer space—hey, we have life in here, okay?—has taken a massive blow; hope other galaxies are not watching. We are now a planet in hiding. No one expected this, prolonged eye contact and deep conversations with just a few—the few people we are locked in with. The coronavirus has altered our social life not a little. Workaholics and social butterflies, day-dreamers and those with nightmares, the monosyllabics and the motor mouths—this virus has been the big leveler of modern times. Domestic help banished from our new exiles—no cooks to soothe our brow, no drivers to take us from point A to point B. We are stationary these days, rooted to the spot.
All differences of caste and colour pale before this new wall between human beings. Even terrorists fear for their lives, issuing frantic notifications on hygiene. The two-faced silent killer virus makes sons murder their mothers and mothers murder their newborns; being infected without knowing it and thereby endangering loved ones means all have to be that much more cautious and conscious. It has boiled down to sheer survival. The way you wash your hands makes all the difference.
An aunt who died of a terminal illness had exclaimed indignantly, ‘I ate right, always healthy home-cooked food. I might as well have eaten out every day for all the good a healthy diet did me.’ That feeling that the joke’s on us is upon us. The gyms and micro nutrients, the kale and quinoa, the vitamin supplements and the exclusive members-only clubs we dined in, they have all ditched us in our hour of need. If we are going to go by Corona, our martyrdom will be unsung. We’d leave in our wake mourners afraid to mourn us openly. Our funerals will be hasty affairs in hospital corridors.
Forget the rosy romantic dreams we had of our own deaths, we now fear the anonymity and indignity of dying without a witness. Succumbing to a recently-named virus seems such a silly way to go. Along with our sense of self-importance, must we sacrifice ourselves as a species? What of our burning political and social issues, what about Weinstein and Trump? When we come out the other end—if we come out the other end —we know we will find a different world, not the one we vacated in a reluctant frenzy, but a new place we walk into with sanitised shoes and soapy hands. We will think before we touch and keep a distance when we speak. Corona is not just a deadly virus but also a communication revolution. We must rethink new ways to interact.