“Don’t Break. Just Take A Break”
Anticipations, assumptions, speculations are what we began the lockdown with. All of us were uncannily perplexed, perceptions diluted and all of it, the cobalt skies turned into an epitome of fair play to gaze at. The social network was booming with pompous selfies, opinions were juxtaposed with information hurriedly validated, social groups jabbering about ‘the lockdown curfew and its impacts’ in tabloids, and nibbling kids not understanding anything still glued to Televisions yet happy on surprising school vacations.
On the other hand, there were logical men and women flanked by religious men and women debating upon how shall this all end into a biblical doomsday, propping subaltern societies on illegal constructions, habitually scratching their private parts and explaining how Corona is a direct translation of some Satanic dream and maybe, much more. The day was the 22nd of March 2020.
However, when tired discussions turned into hostile responsibilities and shoulders were shrugged, like any other nascent democracy; we relied upon our government like we always have, and as assumptive, perhaps governments have some magical wand from some fantastical Hobbit fairy tale. One ‘swoosh’ of that wand and everything shall become as it always was.
Alas but, government, like any other, is us, made of us and made by us. Little puzzled, the same government pulled down all social hobnobbing, activities, fun, and frolic to minimum habitation of seamless supply of essential goods and, that’s it. The common and unprepared man of India is still discovering the 21 days lockdown period to be an inexplicable agile experience of nationhood (which indeed it is) or maybe some fable to be spoken out to grandchildren years later.
For a third world country, The Indian Government did well to announce lockdown early in a critical phase.
Then comes a phase during the lockdown which makes the individual observe and absorb. It took some time however, it did work. Evolution of new social norms which initially were about jostling to buy vegetables, being brute in hoarding essential groceries on reluctantly opened departmental stores, disavowing curtailment in freedom, reluctance to social empathy, and the wearing face masks as a kindergarten punishment.
Punctuated by the sudden realization of calling upon distant relatives, unaware bike riders on dimpled streets to gauge this ‘new warfare’ against an unknown enemy like Corona, introduction to heavy terms like ‘quarantine’, ‘virus hotspot’ etc., coerced social sealing turned into giving mutual space, self-introspection and self-preservation.
Though the period, very affirmatively, comes as a rehab for some of us too who disowned moral responsibilities for they were too involved with fleeting thoughts of broken relationships, unlikable professions, redundant family issues, etc which eventually made them see a ‘modest bar’ or ‘Tinder’ as a valid respite before.
But then again, the current phase sees there has been fanaticism towards religion too. Blaring Television channels, quotes from scriptures, texts, religious interventionists yelling how to even wash hands, fierce debates blaming one religion or the other for spreading ‘Corona’. However, what we forgot that the virus of Corona is a little clearer though in its probabilities.
Irrespective of anything, it spreads. Politically, there is a myriad of reasons to blame China from being late in shutting down, (the now infamous Wuhan) to accepting those social hugs from Italians on the new year however but, the pandemic established one thing, isolation is a myth. What one remotely does affects the other – gravely.
A special mention goes to the Government of India here as and when it took care of this critical situation. The critics can say whatever they want for they are critics (political or otherwise), still, despite being a third world country we showed agility in understanding and accepting that its only proactive measures which could save lives, considering the paucity of resources, live examples of developed nations like Italy, China and America falling flat on the surface in terms of handling Corona.
The Indian government has been taking drastic steps in making sure that this combat remains merely between Corona and humans – a completely secular approach constitutionally. The maturity by which the authorities are manoeuvring orders, a supply of essential goods, ensuring physically a complete lockdown with zero tolerance has been a matter of curious attention by esteemed international organizations as well.
Artistes like us, to speak a little metaphorically, are dancing well and dusty book covers are shining again. While those online zoom or Google Hangout sessions, frequent telephonic chats, video calls for healthy gossiping with film and theatre fraternities are rapid on priorities.
However, they have also proved that things are being created, projects are being redrafted, stories are being written, actors are learning, attempts are being made to improve acting pedagogy, authors have become more stimulating and readers have become avid readers. Basically, to speak succinctly, the family of all creative individuals have taken this entire lockdown period very positively and have gone into some kind of an affirmative hibernation in totality with the rules and regulations to follow up.
To sum it all up, we categorically have to understand, that this lockdown period is not a vacation. It has come with responsibilities. It is indeed a time of introspection, diligence, nearness, support, change, and empathy. It is a time to create something new, maybe just an idea, to begin with.
It is a time to reaffirm our social engineering globally that we are humans first and then gender, political, social, professional, or otherwise. The period is an inspiration for defining or proving that we are a qualified society to understand adapts change – a change which is for that utilitarian greater good of all.
Indeed, we are locked but certainly not down.