It was December of 2019. I was preparing to buy a new car, and also conduct a function at my home for my boys. Planning was in full swing. Suddenly I lost my 96 year old grandma. It all happened in just a week. We were a bit sad about this, but still decided to go ahead with the function assuming her blessings. She personally had told me she will be there at the function no matter what the circumstances. But that was not to be.
Hectic activity preceded the function. Invitation cards, arranging a hall, transport, accommodation, food, the priests and everything else from decoration to photography. The mood was set and the function happened. It was a fantastic event well represented by everyone. Family, friends to support me and make it a success.
Around this time just after the function, my father in law had a heart attack. It all happened all of a sudden. He was at my home and he suddenly started perspiring. I just checked his head and felt that it was a little too much and I took a call to immediately take into the hospital along with my wife. Fast forward two days and he had come out of the ICU after having a couple of stents placed in his heart. A couple of days later he was back home feeling fine. In the meanwhile my new car suffered an accident although a minor one. I personally did not get hurt but I had to spend a lot on damages.
Just when I thought everything was getting settled the COVID-19 mania entered the scene.
Even at the time of this writing the number of confirmed cases all around the world has already touched 600,000. A whopping 27,000 deaths have already occurred. 130,000 people have recovered and the pandemic has affected 181 countries. India had to work fast and do something immediately. This is where the Prime Minister took a bold call and not only did he ask for a curfew of one day but also extended the curfew for three more weeks. What started as a joke about the Chinese turned into a real nightmare for the entire world. Every company offered work from home for the employees and the government ordered a strict lock down of the entire country. This simply means everything was stopped – malls and movie halls, schools, transportation, working from offices, public gatherings, events or even simple things like restaurant visits and family outings.
Pressing the reset button
Work and Study
Just one week or two everything has turned topsy-turvy. Kids took up exams in schools hoping that they would go to the next grade with flying colours. But the government cancel the entire primary and middle schooling and rather promoted them to the next grade automatically. High school exams are now postponed without a date. Working from home became the new normal for employees in India. All the meetings were happening on video conferencing software. And now the whole world is talking about the recession to come. If the stock markets are anything to go by we are in for a very very long haul by the time everything recovers. People were hoping of good salary hikes and promotions and needless to say bonuses but now all they want is their job to be secure.
Fun and frolic
People wanted to spend time with their families watching movies and going to malls for shopping and a few other trips for holidays. But people are now spending time with families sitting at home. Many people lost lot of their money in the stock markets, while some have a lot of money and don’t know what to do with it. There was a time when weekend shopping was a must do in everyone’s list but today the whole world is scrambling to get food that can last at least one week. The world is talking about distancing from each other not meeting each other, and not going to any public place for fear of catching the virus.
The importance of small things
Everyone of us for a long time have assumed that everything in the world will be available to us all the time. Given the crunch on resources we now understand to see small pleasures in life and appreciate them. It could be as simple as having a good meal with your family. It could be to do the clothes or to do the garden or even playing with your kids on the street. It could be watching the birds or enjoying the silence given that all the industrialisation has come to a full stop. This is the reverse case of the so-called perceived stress that we undergo with our job. Requiring us to sit at home doing nothing for nearly a month makes us feel like we are cut off from everything. We now understand the happiness associated with all the socialising that we did. Our mind yearns for getting back to work meeting our colleagues and friends and getting a break from the mundane home life.
We now understand that we need not run to the doctor for every single problem we have, but rather find some way to get it cured at home itself. We now understand how not to waste things, how to keep our home clean, and what it is to be healthy. We now understand how important it is for our kids to go to school and get educated while spending quality time with their friends.
As far as the government facilities are concerned the lawmakers now realise the seriousness to reboot the system once and for all. In my opinion this should be a permanent change and for the good. This should help the future generations be prepared for anything like this pandemic. Our healthcare facilities need to be upgraded and more importantly accessible to all irrespective of how much money they have. In fact a country like India should now seriously think about social security in a greater sense with respect to health care. In all of this I really appreciate how we as a country have put in all our minds together and take a resolve to fight this pandemic.
As we go into the future cautiously our priorities need to be revisited completely. We need good healthcare which is affordable to all. We need assurance on food supplies. We need to stop hoarding essentials. We need to stop panicking about everything. We need to support those who are taking action. We need to care more for our families. We need to socialise more with our friends. We need to look forward to a world where humanity takes priority over everything else. We need to help more. We need to give more. We need to treat all other beings other than humans with greater respect. We need a lot more trust and a lot more faith. We need to stop being politically oriented and start being more humane. We need to celebrate the fact that we are living a good life and so are others around us. We need to make genuine friends and we need to respect people around us more.
But is the world ready for all this? Or are we going to go back to old ways and only think about ourselves while we cause destruction around the earth with our selfish nature? This is like that all important exam question but you are given a chance to edit your answer once. Will you choose wisely?