As the lockdown continues, news, both fake and real, is devoured and exchanged over various platforms. One has to be careful what one forwards and it is important to check one’s facts before passing on information.
It is amazing how different WhatsApp groups disseminate the same forwards, jokes or inspirational speeches.
This can be vexing for the receiver of identical messages but even more irksome is someone sending a message that someone else in the same group has just posted. There should be a rule book on WhatsApp etiquette.
There is a tractor fitted with a speaker that does the rounds, blaring information on the killer virus in the local language. However, I doubt if the message is being relayed simply because we have all become inured to noise, which has become background music, something we can ignore at will
Rule No 1: Read all your messages before hitting the send button.
And then there are the Covid idiots, people who flout all lockdown rules with impunity, convinced they are immune to a virus that has brought the world to its knees. You see them strolling on the streets at any time of the day, zooming on the roads while triple-riding and gathered in knots on the street to chat with friends.
There is a tractor fitted with a speaker that does the rounds, blaring information on the killer virus in the local language. However, I doubt if the message is being relayed simply because we have all become inured to noise, which has become background music, something we can ignore at will.
As soon as the lockdown came into force, stalls sprang up on the roadside, selling vegetables and fruit. The police cars came soon after, asking the stall owners to leave. All the produce is reluctantly packed away, deliberately in slow motion.
It’s clearly a waiting game and, sure enough, the securitymen get tired watching the never-ending winding-up process and leave. By the time the car rounds the corner, the stalls are back, as also the customers who seem to be unaware of the importance of social distancing.
Watching the spectacle
As I watch this spectacle every morning from my safe vantage point — my balcony — I wonder why the cops bother to flex their muscles if they are not going to follow through. In my opinion, the only deterrent would be on-the-spot fines. Some might find this unkind but we are dealing with a life and death situation here.
Most Indians don’t take too kindly to being told what not to do. So, I wasn’t surprised to read about a teenager committing suicide after being scolded by his parents for not staying at home and an enraged father killing his 45-year-old son for refusing to wear a mask. Or a politician going ahead with his son’s marriage despite the ban on social gatherings.
As the pandemic spreads, we are assailed by terms such as hotspots, containment zones and colour zones. It is frightening to read that the city of Pune is one big hotspot. This is a place I visit often and where I lived for four years as a child.
I do realise that our government has its task cut out in trying to flatten the curve among such a ginormous population and simultaneously trying not to use undue force or coercion. I might be in the minority but I believe harsh measures are called for sometimes for the greater good.
And there are horrifying reports of landlords evicting tenants who have tested positive or, in extreme cases, the family of a man who died of TB being shunned by the neighbours and a group of men from a different faith coming to the rescue and performing his last rites.
A village in Telangana has moved lock, stock and barrel to their fields to keep the virus at bay and are prepared to stay there till it is safe to return to their homes.
I hope that in these uncertain times, we learn some valuable lessons and do not return to our selfish ways once the danger is no longer present or clear.
— Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.