Where did the virus come from and when is it going? Its racist GPS is focused on India right now—one place on earth where people are touchy feely because they have no choice. There just isn’t enough country for its population to move around without bumping into each other.
What we need is ‘abracadabra’. Three witches stirring a cauldron, throwing in moonbeams, a comet’s hiss, some soda fizz. A potion to gulp so we can go back to when our lives were paused. On cue the anti-Covid vaccine enters with drum rolls. In this fairytale, we are the princess locked up in a dungeon with the virus playing the fire-breathing dragon. It is the vaccine, we are hoping, that will come charging on a horse to rescue us like all good heroes in sexist stories do.
From frowning darkly at desi anti-virus jabs, we have rapidly moved on to desperately searching for it with our sleeves pulled up and naked arm on show at all times. Never did we imagine that we would actively run towards—and not from—a needle. Most of our shots happen when we are too small to put up a fight. Even if we understand the menace of a suddenly jovial doctor who grabs us by our baby wrist, it is too late to flee. Of course, we are not too proud to cry freely or accept candy, still sniffling self-righteously. The only tattoo we have is on a part of our body not easy to visually locate and though we start off by asking for the whole atlas to be inked on us, we change it quickly to a microscopic dot when the needle first pricks the skin.
Once we decide we are pro-vaxxers, we reach the vaccine maze level of the game. There are so many: Covishield, Covaxin, Sputnik… One of them has been taken off flight lists and the other is a foreigner. We were just going ‘eenie meenie miney mo’, when came the twist in the tale: none of them is available. An evil laugh reverberates on the soundtrack. The vaccine is waxing and waning like the moon; the government website messes with our head. We log in, get the OTP, and then see no available centre anywhere in any pin code. The nearest vaccine slot is on Mars.
It is all the doing of those anti-vaxxers! To whom the vaccine is the villain, the big bad giant who needs to be defeated with magic beans. They are hiding in trees and calling out to Jack. The giant is going ‘Fee fi fo fum’, I can’t smell any blood. A pox on the vax, they said, and that is why, dear children, the vax is nowhere to be seen.