The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi on 24th Mar 2020 at 8 PM addressed the country. The headlines read,
“Country to be in complete lock-down for the next 21 days starting 12AM tonight”
By 25th Mar 2020 The number of Coronavirus cases in India had exceeded 600 with 70 plus cases reported in one day. We did see the lock-down coming. Or at least we internally hoped for this. Considering the population in India, if the virus spread uncontrollably, the country would definitely go down. Needless to say, the decision had been well accepted and it was the need of the hour.
However, there’s always a section of people that’ll suffer. We had various levels of sufferance; the essential sector was battling to save the people tirelessly, the daily wage earners and migrant workers were suddenly jobless, homeless and they couldn’t even go to their family as the trains were cancelled. As beverage corp closed down, suicides of extreme alcohol addicts were increasing. The migrant workers began protesting while others began to walk to their homes which were hundreds of miles away and some of them died due to exhaustion and hunger. Meanwhile at homes, the cases of domestic violence increased as people were stuck at home , disagreements became more frequent and so did the associated violence.
Let me tell how things are currently where I am:
More than one person cannot be seen traveling. If you want to buy anything, you go alone. The Police are patrolling the streets everywhere. They stop every vehicle and ask where they are going. If they are from the essential services’ sector, they let them go.
My mother works in SBI. One day my mother came home and told us that within a distance of 8 Kms, she was stopped 6 times and asked where she was going. She’d show her badge and they’ll let her pass. Imagine the number of people that have been put to work if she found 6 of them within 8 Kms. Imagine having to stop every person and ask where they are going! They are doing a wonderful job and I have immense respect for them for having been this thorough.
It is frustrating and at times even funny, the kind of reasons people give if the Police questioned them. One guy said he wanted to buy a needle while another lied about a funeral he had to attend. By the end of the week, the Police had confiscated hundreds of keys of people who were found roaming around unnecessarily and people were beginning to understand the gravity of the situation.
The above pictures are from the official Instagram Page of Kerala Police. I have been following them for a while and it is heart warming to see how active they are on social media trying to knock some sense onto people’s heads through so many creative ways.
Dad went to the supermarket. He told us that only 7 people were allowed inside the supermarket at a time and I thought to myself what a wonderful system that was. It ensured that there was minimal contact between the people who were inside. There really wasn’t many supplies for you to choose from and so people didn’t really take much time inside. Even then, people had to wait in long queues outside the supermarket. It took about 2.5 hours for my father to come back with the groceries.
This doesn’t mean people obey and stay indoors. There is still the problem faced by the daily wage earners who don’t have any source of living and cannot just stay at home. They either have to die of the virus or hunger and this system is unfair to them. They have to leave their homes and find a way to earn and in the process, people like me who are privileged sit at home and blame them. There’s the other category; privileged and insensitive. They can stay at home, but decide to just roam around for the heck of it.
Initially, people did enjoy the time with the families but gradually it started getting hold of them. After about a month, I noticed that I myself was frustrated, not having left the house for days. Your own mind starts to get to you. everything that was once interesting stops being so; even TV series. I have watched more Web series now more than ever and I realized yesterday that it wasn’t even interesting anymore. A state of laziness, lethargy, lack of accomplishment, the dread of what could happen when all of this ends are few of the many feelings I’ve been going through. It’s not just me. Someone was telling me that they felt suffocated.
The lock-down was supposed to end on 14th Apr 2020 (tomorrow). But the Nizamuddin event ensured that it didn’t. As of today (13th apr 2020), the Coronavirus cases have exceeded 9000 in India. Remember! This is after 21 days of lock-down. I shudder to think what would have happened if the lock-down hadn’t been declared when it was. And since the cases have been increasing rapidly, the lock-down has been extended for two more weeks.
Definitely not a happy news. But we all know that it is necessary. And even if we need to deal with ourselves, we are willing to stay in. Let me add one more thing. I know that it is worse for so many out there while I complain about being stuck at home. I am aware of my privileges. But while we talk of struggles at physical level, the mental struggles differ from person to person. You can easily see the privileges or the physical struggles of people, but you’ll never know whose mental struggle is worse. Nothing gives people the right to invalidate one’s struggles.
So if you are trying to just stay afloat, not doing anything productive, eating that pudding because it keeps you sane, not willing to talk to anyone, you are still doing a wonderful job of holding yourself together. You don’t have to be a master-chef, paint, sing or learn anything new just because so many others can. Don’t beat yourself up. You only need to be.