Pandemic and the accompanying lockdown has turned our lives upside down. Amid this lockdown came the wonderful idea, thanks to Ila Varma at http://www.varmaila.com, of writing down our experiences of lockdown in the form of blog posts. Several eminent bloggers have contributed their writeups. My effort follows the post of a wonderful blogger Gurjeet Chabra. Gurjeet’s writeups on tasty snacks never ceases to amaze me and makes me crave for more. In between snacks, read Prisoner of a Pandemic , before you start appreciating Sabeeka Lamba‘s love for natural remedies in our daily lives.
“State Covid Testing Facility,” the board in front of the single storey whitewashed buidling announced itself. Cocky and confident, Sumit pushed through the glass door, brushed aside the security guard who demanded that he put on a face mask.
“Madam ji he is not putting on a mask,” complained the guard to the healthcare attendant sitting in the center of the room, “you will blame me that I don’t pay attention.”
“Put on a mask, beta,” attendant madam, covered from head to toe in a protective gear, looked up and pronounced, “either you will get infected or you will pass your infection to others.”
“I am here to get checked,” he declared, “Test me, I shall be on my way.”
“Fill up your details,” “madam ji gave him a form and said, “take a seat, we shall call you”.
There were several people in the room. All were masked, some coughing. “Any healthy man will fall sick in this environment,” irritated, Sumit took a seat in one corner of the hall thinking, “Damn those Chinese! Eating bats, of all things! Made my life so difficult.”
Till yesterday, Sumit did not know pay much attention to Corona virus and the disease that accompanies an infection. He was out on a movie date with his girl friend, Shruti. With some difficulty, after paying a lot of money he had managed the corner seat in upper balcony. With both Katrina Kaiff and Disha Patani in the movie he was certain it will be a good show.
“What are you doing?” Shruti asked ast he tried to cosy up to her in the dark movie theatre, “are you not aware that COVID spreads through breath and saliva?”
“Of course I know,” in an effort to reassure her Sumit had asserted, “I am clean and free of disease.”
“How do you know?” Shruti questioned, as she moved away, “did you test for Corona? You may be asymptomatic. You can still infect me and others.”
Her pronouncement hit him hard enough such that even Disha and Katrina could not cheer him up. “Who forced you to come, Lady Einstein?” he wanted to retort, but his ability for a sarcastic comeback was also temporarily numbed. He sat quietly through the movie, all the while cursing his luck for the time, money and effort wasted procuring these expensive tickets. So angry he was, that not only he did not procure any cola and popcorn during intermission, on his way out, he did not even look at the food court for his favorite “Kulche Chole” from Haldiram.
“What are your symptoms – fever, cough, sore throat, breathing difficulty?” Sumit was woken up from his thought by the healthcare officer, “certainly in your age you don’t have diabetes or blood pressure, or do you?”
He was not sure there are so many diseases, and answered in negative hoping that he had none of those. “Then why are you here?” rebuked the nurse, “don’t waste our time.”
“I want to get tested,” knowing fully well that he would not be able to reveal the real reason, he said feebly “I have come in contact with a friend who has travelled from abroad. Who knows, I may fall ill tomorrow!”
“Look son, I cannot test you unless you show some symptom,” the lady officer announced, “I recommend you undertake a home quarantine for fourteen days. And, don’t move around, we may come for a surprise check.”
“Not testing a willing subject!” trapped now Sumit cursed angrily, “ stupid policy of a bloody incompetent government! Modi must resign! All this friendship with bat eating Chinese! I am the one who is suffering.”
“Sumit beta go to market and fetch some milk, groceries and vegetables,” he was enjoying aroma of second-hand cigarette smoke drifting in his direction from the balcony above, when his mother broke his peace “pick up my medicines too; dont forget to wear your mask.” He could not recall exactly when more than a month of lockdown, that started within two days of his quarantine, had tamed him into grocery shopping and doing dishes. His sister, Summo, evaded her duties on the pre-text of working from home. Sumit was certain that Summo spent a lot of working hours face-timing with her boy friend.
Bored of watching repeat telecasts on TV Sumit attempted surprise Shruti. They hadn’t talked much since the eventful day. “Sorry sahib, only family members are allowed,” the guard said, “what you said your name was? Are you her brother by any chance?” Sumit’s bruised ego felt the guard was enjoying his discomfiture. He wanted to scream, “behen hogi teri!” but he restrained himself and moved on. Frustration was further compounded, when on the jogging track his attempt at a friendly chat to a girl, from the same housing society as his, was broken up by local RWA president. “Beta, this is corona time,” offering a piece of advice, pro bono, as he walked past, “there will be enough life ahead to make friends.” “These old geezers have no excitement left in life,” he commented sarcastically, “and won’t let others have fun either.”
“I think lockdown should be extended, I have full faith in our PM,” Summo was discussing with someone on the phone benefits of lockdown while PM Modi announcing a further extension on a 24 hours news channel, “can you believe what may happen if everything is thrown open?”
“One thing that I know is certainly lazy shirkers will have to work much harder as system opens up,” unable to contain his anger and frustration, he lashed out, “ I think this lockdown is a disaster, look what it has done to life and livlihood of so many people; people are walking on the roads hungry and tired, Miss work from home, Modi Bhakt!”
“Beta, only when someone is taken from us, do we realise losing livelihood is not worse than losing a life,” mother tried to cool the temperature, “did you know Mr. Saxena from the floor above has tested positive and is admitted in a hospital?”
“Can I get infected inhaling second hand smoke?” was the first thought in his mind as his confidence sapped and fear started to take over, “we must quarantine the whole family and no one should be allowed to come out and put others at risk.”
“Beta, they have fallen sick not committed a crime,” mother tried to calm him down, “who knows tomorrow it can be us.”
“I don’t know mother,” he sighed resignedly, “with temple doors locked, gods have also abandoned us, it seems! “
Tags : #pandemicdiaries2020, #quarantine
This post is written as part of the Blog train “The Blog train THE PANDEMIC THAT CHANGED OUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN initiated by blogger Ila Varma (www.varmaila.com) to bring the bloggers together to share numerous experiences of #pandemiclockdown2020. For more posts on the topic please look here.
I thank Gurjeet Chabra, for introducing me. Gurjeet’s writeups on tasty delights never ceases to amaze me. In between snacks read the blog post of Sabeeka Lamba, who will follow me. Visit her blog and appreciate her love for natural remedies in our lives.