Sunday, September 06, 2020

When Paranoia met Corona


Even in pre – Corona days, I was a compulsive hand washer and my handbag was never without a small bottle of sanitizer. One can never be too careful. People in these parts poop, pee, and noisily spit just about anywhere. As a WFH author, I have long encouraged myself to practice social distancing and it was never difficult because I have an abhorrence of crowds and will risk wading into one only if Vijay Sethupathy/Devarokonda have released a movie. Social gatherings aren’t a big draw either unless there is coffee and cake. But since I can brew a wicked cup of coffee myself and now that my relationship with my tempestuous oven is cordial there is no reason to try and cure my tendency to be a hopeless introvert who is perfectly comfortable eschewing socializing, virtual or otherwise.

The husband who was cautious to start with seems headed towards full-blown hyper - vigilantism. He is making his own sanitizer with isopropyl alcohol and glycerine, vacuuming every inch of the house and scrubbing all available surfaces with lizol and I believe he spends his free time drawing up plans to build a sterile bubble we can step into every time we have to step out in order to rebuff germs as well as its carriers for good.

We have welcomed the newly enforced rules and regulations insisting that people wash their hands with soap and reaffirm their commitment to personal hygiene. Yet, even I can’t help but think we are going too far and it is high time we got a grip. For it is one thing to be sensibly cautious but quite another when we allow ourselves to become dangerously paranoid. There are too many news articles attesting to how we have swung towards the latter. 

These are hardly the best of times and it is okay to be scared. But when we allow unfounded fear and irrational concerns to rule over good sense, an already crappy situation becomes far crappier. It is heart-breaking to hear about doctors being pelted with stones, nurses evicted from their apartments by heartless landlords, relatives of the deceased being hounded and harassed while attempting to perform the last rites, and immigrant workers being barred entry from their villages and towns. It is sensible to want to avoid risking infection but not if it is going to cost us our humanity.

We are in this together and it is only a matter of time before we learn to live with Corona the way we do with the umpteen viruses, bacteria and thoughtless humans out there. So wash your hands, drink your coffee, eat your cake and do whatever it takes to prevent going stir crazy.

This article was published in The New Indian Express.

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