Resign to the covid-19 life

 

By Benjamin Lyngdoh

 

Two friends were having tea at a workplace canteen. One looks at the other angrily and with fear. The reason – one of them had a sneeze and to make it worse followed with a statement that he has been suffering from a sore throat for the last two days! Two customers at social distancing were standing at a gadgets outlet in Police Bazaar with the intention to buy smart phones. Suddenly, a group of people in camouflage fatigues assembled behind the two with no social distancing. To make it worse, some were having their masks at chin level. With anger and fear, one of the customers’ shouted at the outlet manager saying, “If you do not chase these BSF people away (although it was not specifically possible to ascertain if it were indeed BSF or otherwise) we are going to leave your shop without buying anything.” The reason – a number of BSF personnel have been infected with covid-19.

These two examples are only the tip of the iceberg as far as behaviour of people is concerned in response to the covid-19 pandemic. We are getting jittery, chronically suspicious, anxious, angry and downright pessimistic. As negative as these emotional responses are; they are expected, understood and accepted by all. Just think for a minute; the negative emotional responses are accepted en masse without question. Now this is something that none of us would have comprehended until 2019. Well, let us resign ourselves to this. This is the new normal and we cannot run and hide. However, do we resign with a negative perspective of things? Or is there a way out of this doom and gloom? The last few months have been a rough roller coaster ride with no end in sight. As such, the only way out is to come to grips with the issue, understand it, mitigate it and get on with life. By and by, through being positive we resign to the covid-19 life. This can only be achieved if and only if we factor in a number of critical elements.

To start with, over the last few days there has been a spike of covid-19 cases in Meghalaya, particularly in East Khasi Hills. Yes this is a concern for all. However, this cannot overwhelm us. In fact, it is good that we are tracing and tracking the infection right now. Imagine a situation where we fail to do our duties currently and as a result all of a sudden there shall be an explosion of cases. Then there will be no hiding and no protection for anyone. Our health infrastructure will collapse and that would be the end of us all. As such, there is a need to resign to the fact that detection of cases and contact tracing and tracking is very much a part of our lives now. As per estimates of the India situation, there shall be a continued presence of covid-19 cases at least till the end of this year. It is a dire situation but there is a way out. All we need do is to stay calm and map out the containment areas (extremely important) and carry on with our activities to the extent possible. Overall, there is no point on stressing over it. Rather, be prepared and press on!

As we move on, lockdowns have become a part of our lives. In general, people agree that we have not seen its last. On hindsight and ever since the 21 day lockdown was announced by PM Modi on March 24, people have been debating if lockdowns work in fighting covid-19? The results are mostly to the contrary. This is because a number of analyses (in the Indian context) have shown that lockdowns do not really work. Lockdown cannot eradicate the virus; at best they just slow down the incidence of the pandemic. Moreover, when we trade-off lockdowns with the socio-economic costs, the lockdown strategy is a big no-no. We all know that lockdowns cause immense hardship to the unorganized sector and the gig economy. It throws our local economy into a spiral of uncertainty. It is like bringing down the entire house in the process of killing a rat. Clearly, it is not worth it. Hence, the best weapon to fight covid-19 is not a lockdown; rather masks, distancing and hand washing are better options.

However, in the worst of situations; containment areas are the solution. Do a surgical strike on covid-19! In the midst of it all, it is worth mentioning that initially most people in Shillong did not give too much weight to covid-19. Many did genuinely think that it would naturally taper and die down; while some saw it as some nasty dream that would just blow away like bubbles in the air. Alas, none of that has happened! If anything, covid-19 has shown us that living in denial never helps. What helps is the acceptance of the danger and being aware about it.

Hence let us move beyond awareness and focus on mindfulness. Being mindful of things is better. It is the state of mind where people are prepared for anything and thrive on dealing with the danger and not denying it. Covid-19 is part of our lives now and it will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Let us not live in denial and not fret or have wishful thoughts. The way forward is to care for oneself and to others. Follow protocols and if up one does contact the virus then inform the authorities and assist them in contact tracing. If only more people would do this voluntarily it would be a reverse psychology on covid-19 stigmatization!

Amidst this pandemic and all the hardships it has brought, we must never forget the innumerable vocations (some forced) that the people have developed. The most common of these is the motivation into culinary arts and adoption of trial and error method towards attempting new food and beverages and gastronomy. Amongst these, the baking of cakes and pastries has taken most by storm. Factoring this in the equation of things, it will be interesting to observe the vibrancy of the cake and pastries market in Shillong this Christmas.

In addition, these are days when we must have a ‘14 day cooling strategy’. This is because at any time our localities may be declared as a containment area. As such, we will need things to do so as to keep ourselves active and humored. This will help us to not complain/stress over restrictions on movements and maintain our good spirits.

In the end, this article is not about trivializing the pandemic. Too many people have suffered and died. It is not about demeaning the potency of the virus or proposing that we behave irresponsibly. Far from it; it is about accepting scientific facts as they are and it is about people facing and alleviating covid-19 mindfully. We must remember that behaving responsibly is the only way out. That way, we resign to the covid-19 life with knowledge and wisdom; all in a positive sense!

(Email: [email protected])

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