‘Lockdown’ — this word refers to a combination of two words – loc + doun, derived from the Old and Middle English respectively. While it has been in use since the nineteenth century, the recent coronavirus pandemic made it globally famous. People who had never even heard it before now blabber about the scratches and wounds it has caused in their lives.
The lockdown has weakened the economic system, made us kneel to the privileges we had taken for granted and left us in our cells – called homes – where we are told to create our small world, just like in the 2019 film, The Room (Dir: Christian Volckman), in which a child is made to believe that nothing else exists other than what he can see and observe inside the room.
Separated from other human beings, our life under lockdown 2020 was already tough, and the resurgence of the new mutants is making it tougher every day. People were unprepared to stay inside, wear protective gears every time they go out and not feel the magical human touch, the gesture of warmth and kindness in the form of hugs.
In India, as a developing economy, the virus had not only tasted human flesh, but desires and hopes as well. Many lost their only source of livelihood, daily wagers were left stranded, with no means to gather resources for food, and many succumbed to extreme actions as they were unable to cope up with the new abnormal.
Start-ups and small businesses have been hit badly. Being forced to pay office rent and salaries for months without making any profit, many founders and owners were left with no choice but to shut their business down. Frontline workers – doctors, nurses and the other hospital staff – are suffering inch by inch. Many of them got infected while treating other people, their family members too caught the infection, some made it through, while some gave up against the weak immune system or lack of proper treatment in time.
After several months of the lockdown, as the scientific community came out with the vaccines, we finally had some hope that the pandemic would soon subside. The number of cases began to decrease. All of us thought that life would go back to how it was before March 2020. The authorities became careless – religious gatherings and election rallies were allowed. Locked down for several days, all of us started attending parties and going out on vacations. Instagram was filled with influencers visiting Maldives. And, just when we thought the momentum was back, we were hit hard by the second wave of coronavirus.
This time, the resurrected virus was way powerful, we couldn’t anticipate that it would attack the lungs, inflate it to the point that we would be wandering everywhere, gasping for the most essential element needed to survive – oxygen. As I write this article, there are 2.27 crore cases of coronavirus in India, glimpses of the helplessness for oxygen and life-saving drugs can be felt every time I open any of my social media accounts.
So, although the whole situation is gloomy and dark, there is only one thing we can hold on to, and that is ‘hope’.
Scientists and experts are hopeful that vaccines, life-saving drugs and proper pandemic behaviour will minimise the damage and help us put an end to the pandemic. Additionally, there have been instances in which herd immunity has been reached, for instance, in the case of eradication of smallpox. With all the helping hands extended by different nations, India will be in a better position to give a powerful fight.
Although it seems a difficult route, considering the lack of vaccines in the country and the collapsing health system, hope is the only thing that will help us go through the day and then the coming day and so on, until we reach a point where we don’t have to cover our faces under the open sky with bright sunshine or glittering stars.
With shining hopes in our eyes, when we try to visualise life on the other side of lockdown, we hope for a brighter future. Humans are creatures of habit and we foresee a life full of new habits. For instance, a lot of people took up cycling amidst the lockdown. Many also retorted to other fitness activities, and hence, fitness bands, running shoes and healthy snack witnessed a surge in sales.
This phenomenon of getting accustomed to new habits is known as the ‘fresh-start effect’. This new-found love to call and check on our parents, friends and relative will hopefully continue even after the lockdown ends for good. Children who were used to living by themselves and never bothered by their parents for day-to-day report would find interference from their parents welcoming, similar to what is happening currently during the lockdown. This will hopefully continue even when ‘normal’ school days are back.
Most of the employees are likely to stress on work-from-home environment, would mean reduced traveling time and expense, and working from the comfort of their homes, barring those who would not find solace at home. Recreational activities such as binge-watching, gardening and cooking will likely continue even after the lockdown is over.
Unfortunately, not everything can be seen in a brighter context. With the growing disparity, the widening class division will only worsen the situation. With lack of concentration on online videos and no practical exams, education for many, especially those with no electronic gadgets or from economically backward students, will take a back seat.
It might take a lot of effort and time to bring students at par with the recommended level of learning for their age. Likewise, newer businesses that need the physical presence of employees will struggle to survive. Places that were once thriving with the presence of hitchhikers and travellers would take years to reach the point where parties, bonfire and loud music can become a part of the new life.
The coming days are unnerving, unpredictable and hard to comprehend. The terror of not knowing the future is looming all over and spreading fear. However, as stated twice in this article, we just want to repeat it one last time – hope is the only thing that will help us float through these turbulent times.