It is an understatement to say that not many people are feeling particularly lucky at this moment but the truth is we are all fortunate to live in this particular age. For those wondering if I am writing this from one of those exclusive wellness retreats in the middle of the Sahara frequented by Hollywood hotshots or merely because I have my head firmly lodged up my backside, you couldn’t be more wrong. Like everybody else, I am in lockdown mode, thanks to the damnable pandemic raging across the world. Reduced to missing the Before Corona era while trying to keep up with mounting household chores which eat into all the time everybody else seems to be spending on Netflixing or vegetating on their couches. And worrying about the economic fallout from all this has ensured that I am not in the best or brightest of moods.
Even so, I cannot help but think we have it relatively easy, especially if we were to take a stroll through the darker corridors of a disease – fraught past and witness the devastation caused by deadly epidemics and pandemics that changed the course of history. It must have sucked real bad to be afflicted with leprosy in the middle ages when it was believed that the victims were being punished by God for moral failings. Consequently, they were ostracised and left to rot in isolated colonies. Multiples outbreaks of the bubonic plague also known as the Black Death are believed to have routinely decimated one – third of the population across large swathes of Europe, Asia, Africa and Arabia.
Let us not forget small – pox which originated in Europe but wound up being carried to and ultimately annihilating almost the entire indigenous population in the New World. In India, we are all too familiar with the evils wrought by cholera across the years. Brought to our shores by British soldiers, millions have died and it is to our shame that it remains a dogged killer to this day given our inadequate treatment of sewage, irresponsible garbage disposal, practise of open defecation and lack of access to clean drinking water. In all these instances, the sick seldom had access to decent medical care, were stigmatized and left to die on the streets even as the corpses piled up and no one had the strength left to dig up mass graves.
The Coronavirus on the other hand has a significantly lower mortality rate. More importantly, thanks to cutting edge technology that allows us to communicate instantly and constantly with each other, it is possible to remain well – informed and on top of the situation. We can help one another with money, medical aid and other resources. Even the poor and unfortunate, left stranded when public transport was suspended can make their plight visible thanks to intrepid reporters and social media with the ensuing outcry forcing the government to act. If we can stay calm in the midst of the senseless panic, fear – mongering and conspiracy theorizing there is no reason why we can’t beat this thing. All it takes is sense, strict sanitary measures and a willingness to refrain from blaming each other, Tablighi Jamaat, China or the government for our current predicament.
These are things we would do well to remember and feel grateful for in the middle of a lockdown, particularly when feeling somewhat cranky while knee – deep in dirty dishes and frustration. After all, it could have been so much worse.
P.S: If my article has failed to make you feel lucky or even a little less lousy about the lockdown, I don’t blame you in the least.
An edited version of this article was published in The New Indian Express.