I got my second vaccine dose yesterday. I’m done for now, but who knows how the final vaccination schedule will pan out, with newer strains, or variants of concern as they are called, still proliferating. These vaccinations could turn out to be an annual ritual. I’ve stopped questioning. What’s the point anyway?
A genuine accident, an act of carelessness, supreme recklessness, a deliberate plan, whatever it was, it has changed everything. I’m talking about the origin of the almighty Virus, of course. Our individual worlds are now tiny spaces in which the same activities repeat day after day, especially during the weeks of lockdown.
For some, it is getting the body battle-ready for COVID – drinking brews made from ginger, turmeric or pepper, squeezing lemon juice on everything that’s served, three different types of exercise regimens scheduled at intervals through the day . . .
For some, it is cleaning out the airways and lungs by inhaling steam with the hope of killing the viruses before they can get in there and start a cytokine storm . . .
For some, it is protecting body and soul through prayer, meditation and chanting, because they believe nobody in the world knows anything about this thing that has descended on us like a swarm of locusts . . .
For some, it is keeping track of the virus in real time, listening to Dr. Anthony Fauci’s pronouncements, picking through whatsapp forwards for new information, following the COVID stats gravely intoned by TV presenters . . .
For some, it is watching movies and shows on Netflix to escape into a world where nobody wears masks and there’s no social distancing, and life is the way it used to be . . .
For some, it is work-from-home, probably the least dysfunctional activity in these times. Those living in the tiny universe of their w-f-h jobs stole a march over COVID by sequestering themselves in makeshift home offices even before the lockdown was announced . . .
For some, it is filling up waking hours with up-skilling, to be eligible for job promotions ‘after COVID’ . . .
For some, it is cooking for family members w-f-h, doing dishes, sweeping, mopping, dusting, occasionally popping out at 7:00 a.m. to the neighbourhood general store for groceries and little necessities . . .
For some, it is reading all the unread books bought over the years, thankful for the uninterrupted time to read, at times marveling at the kind of books their younger versions had chosen to buy!
And so on . . .
Sometimes I feel like a bewildered child that has passed through Bowlby’s stages of Protest and Despair and has reached the stage of Detachment. My deadened limbic system doesn’t react to news anymore. My head does not process stats and graphs, or try to figure out details about the virus, vaccine technology or vaccine politics.
As far as I’m concerned, it no longer matters whether the Chinese painstakingly crafted the ‘novel’ corona virus in their lab at Wuhan, or tossed some bat viruses into the Hadron collider and zapped into existence a new species with superpowers.
I’m never going to know whether American and European scientists – as recent reports say – were involved in the gain-of-function research at the Wuhan lab or it was China’s independent project.
I will never know whether it is a biological weapon surreptitiously unleashed on the world, or an accident that serendipitously brought prosperity to China while decimating the economies of other countries.
The damage is done.
Nobody’s going to confront China anyway. Even Tedros and his WHO team weren’t given access to raw data on their fact-finding mission to Wuhan earlier this year. And if other countries were indeed involved they will go into a secret huddle, make deals, and issue a cleverly worded press statement. A thousand TV channels will convey it to a not-so-gullible, but ultimately powerless, public . . .
I don’t believe our vote is as powerful as it is made out to be, because most of the people who stand for elections are very similar when you scratch the surface and look.
I never said the world is fair to all, and it is very much in the natural order of things, for example, that CONMEBOL (governing body of football in S America) has got Brazil to agree to host Copa América despite being a COVID hotspot, because CONMEBOL has had much bigger losses than the ordinary citizens of Brazil, right?
The same goes for the International Olympic Committee’s reluctance to cancel the Japan Olympics this year even though 70% of the population does not want the Games held there. Risk-benefit analyses depend on who has more clout, not on what is fair or humane.
These corona years will pass into history in a couple of years. Millions will have died, millions will have been pushed into poverty and, yes, a few billionaires will have been created by COVID economics.
Alongside all this, though, armies of young Indians – all with their heart in the right place – will have quietly discovered how much they are capable of achieving if they use their smarts and their considerable skills for the greater good. The newspapers are full of stories of initiatives taken by Indians of all ages, most especially the younger lot, and they kindle hope that the future of our youth may not be as bleak as it seems.
This, then, is what I choose to see as the silver lining to this disastrous pandemic.