A whole lot of people went through a roller-coaster of emotions, from anger to downright depression, when India decided to extend the lockdown at the end of Lockdown 2.0.
My wife, who has now become an expert on lockdowns, herd immunity, and face masks, was actually happy that her prediction came true.
She knows exactly what government officials are going to say, even before they know it. And she can sift through the white noise that occurs in a bureaucracy, which is largely playing by ear because coronavirus is something they never imagined, and do not know how to manage people in a pandemic.
The newspaper detailed the latest lockdown, and it seemed just like the older version, but in this one you can do a whole lot of things that you enjoyed doing in your previous life, that is life Before Corona
She is like those political secretaries in foreign embassies who know how to read a situation without a single word being spoken. They keenly observe what is not being said.
For instance, they read strange details into the visuals sent by the North Korean government of their leader inaugurating a fertiliser factory.
The diplomats wonder why an official is holding a white cane in the picture. Did the leader recently undergo heart surgery and is recovering perhaps. Hmm, is that really him, or his double, and the original has gone to his heavenly abode?
“Did you see how [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi wore his mask when he spoke to chief ministers of states via video conferencing? His mask did not cover his nose. It is a brave gesture, meaning I do not think much of this virus. We will be in lockdown till June, when this one is lifted,” said my wife.
“You are reading too much into a simple gesture,” I said. “He is wearing a three-ply home-made mask. It is very thick and does not have those thingys at the side that allow you to breathe. I think he is suffocating and needs to uncover his nose.”
The Lockdowns have numbers like 2.0, 3.0, as if they are the latest beta versions of a software. The newspaper detailed the latest lockdown, and it seemed just like the older version, but in this one you can do a whole lot of things that you enjoyed doing in your previous life, that is life Before Corona.
For one, our maid could return to our home, and presumably start breaking the knick-knacks that we had carefully collected during our trips to interesting places.
My wife was overjoyed, but she still had conditions: “She will have to wear a face mask at all times in my house. She will have to wash her hands with Dettol after she washes her hands with soap and water. She will have to learn to ride a scooter. I can’t have her taking the crowded bus to come here.”
The housing association also had a host of conditions for the maid: she not only had to get her handbag searched before leaving, but now she had to present her hands to be sanitised when she entered the community.
She should preferably walk up the stairs to our apartment, rather than take the lift. If she is overweight, then she should ensure there are only two people in the lift and she must strictly ensure ‘social distancing’.
(The size of our building lift is, incidentally, like an upright coffin meant for three midgets and people sometimes get trapped in it when the power goes off).
“Great, the driver is back at work. I need to go to the hardware store,” I said.
“You are not allowed to go out under Lockdown 3.0,” said my wife. “It’s in respect for your age,” she said and laughed.
— Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi