WELCOME TO THE OTHER SIDEby Soni Razdan April 9 2020, 12:11 am Estimated Reading Time: 6 mins, 27 secs
“One can keep wondering about the why’s and the wherefores, but eventually it all boils down to the simple fact that we are not as invincible as we thought we were”, Soni Razdan
Covid came upon us when we didn’t even know what it was. It lurked around the corners. It leaked into the corridors of our spaces and vaporised into our lives out of nowhere ... or so it seemed. And before we knew it we were flattened. Our doors were locked, the gates of our housing societies, our bungalows and our bastis were bolted, and our hearts and minds were frozen in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of an enemy we couldn’t see or hear or comprehend. Fear of an alien something that we had no knowledge about. At all.
We learned fast though. We learned from those that died and those that lived. We learned that if at all there was anything to learn it was this : we as a species are a helpless useless lot. All our weaponry, all our bluster and all our bluff was called out in one fell swoop by a minuscule microscopic number that outwitted us faster than the most advanced brain on the planet. And what it told us was this ... you ain’t seen nothing yet and baby you better get used to the idea of death because it’s coming for you. And if you don’t believe me, it’s not you who will be having the last laugh.
Dark isn’t it?
We really don’t know where we’re headed and of course we hope and pray it isn’t to our graves. But among all this rather grim news let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on what all this really means for us.
Speaking for myself I can say that it took me about a week or more to get over the shock of the news of this ‘invasion’ and to process what our lives were turning into. I will never be able to touch a lift button without fear, go to the supermarket as breezily as I used to, shoot in a crowded room without worrying, hug a friend without trepidation, get on a plane without even more dread than I already felt earlier, or shake hands with a stranger with the warmth and gusto that I used to. To name just a few things.
That we have to wash our hands twenty tines a day, wipe down the groceries with strange sanitizer liquids, that we are now confined to our flat, children can’t go down to play or go to school, that we can’t go onto the beach or park for our usual evening walks, and that in spite of doing all these things, one day in the future we still may get this virus ... it all seems bizarre, unfair and overwhelming at times.
But as we creep into our third week of lockdown ... I’ve been at home since 17th March, well before the country was told to shut down with four hours’ notice ... one can’t help but reflect on our lives as they once were, what they’re going to become and what on earth we did wrong. Or what we did to deserve this? Or did we do anything at all and in the end is this really not our fault ?
One can keep wondering about the why’s and the wherefores, but eventually it all boils down to the simple fact that we are not as invincible as we thought we were. Or not as powerful. Today all our weapons of mass destruction are rendered useless. We were simply not prepared for this at all. We were looking one way and the enemy came from a completely different direction in a completely different form! In terms of war tactic this was a master move!
Which brings me to the irony of it all.
What is it about our particular species that makes us so brilliant in so many ways and yet so profoundly stupid when it comes to following a herd? When we do not see the writing on the wall. That unless we work together, today, tomorrow and every day in the future, we could be doomed. This is time for collective action and individual reflection. Because something has been very wrong in the way we have been approaching our world as a whole. Mainly because we haven’t been approaching it as a whole at all but as bits and pieces, with boxes and labels and presumptions and assumptions. And somewhere along the way... well we lost our way.
Today God doesn’t need us to show we care by endangering our fellow men. He doesn’t need us to prove our love for him externally. This is a time of the journey to the inner self and to the core of what really matters. And what really matters today is the preservation of our very existence. In order to do that we simply have to come together as one and ensure that all of us play our part in this dance of life and death today by ensuring we do not provide this virus the opportunity it seeks to flatline us.
Your places of worship are not going anywhere. Your politics can wait. Your holidays will have to wait too.
Like a music tape that starts to slow down distorting the once pleasant tune into a grotesque garbled sound, the wheels of the world are grinding to an agonising halt, slowing down our once hectic lives to a slow-motion-like unreal pace.
Meanwhile take some time to reflect on the kind of world we would like to leave to ourselves when all this is over.
The question is this. Who do we want to be? Who do we want to survive a pandemic to become? And why do we deserve to live to inherit the earth?
Is it to be able to fight another war, kill another man from another land (or our own), annihilate another species and choke the fish with yet more poison and plastic ?
Or is it to survive to change the world for the better, to love your neighbour as thyself and to finally realise that we are all the same, and that religion and the colour of your skin just does not matter. Because in the end, to another creature or to a virus... a human is a human is a human. Strange that a virus does not differentiate between Princes, Prime Ministers and paupers and can see this truth but very often we ourselves cannot!
The virus does not discriminate. And it’s this ability to be indiscriminate that is what keeps it going and keeps it alive. When will we learn that in order for us to get stronger we have to do the same?
The choice is before us. I pray we choose wisely. Because we will defeat this virus one day. But having defeated it, will we continue with our same old selfish, brutal insane ways? Today the worlds’ richest country, the country with the most weapons, the best brains, and the biggest banks is begging for paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine.
If this doesn’t teach us anything then nothing ever will.
Meanwhile the bird song seems louder, dolphins are sighted at Nariman Point, and black panthers walk the streets of Ooty.