As lockdown fatigue sets in, most of us dream of freedom from captivity and all the things we will be able to enjoy once again. Some of these might be frivolous such as a visit to a salon for some much-needed pampering or going for a long walk without fear of getting infected.
But, in our heart of hearts, we know life will never be the same again. We all have been held hostage by an invisible enemy, making us painfully aware of the fact that we have brought this on ourselves with our ruthless exploitation of our planet.
Stories of lockdown heroes abound such as the diploma holder in hotel management in Hyderabad who has been cooking and serving meals to the homeless in different areas of the city
With human beings confined to their homes, wild animals are once again able to roam freely. There are photographs galore of these magnificent creatures coming out of hiding, sensing no immediate threat to their lives with humans confined to their homes.
Pollution levels have dropped drastically and river water is now fit for drinking. These are definitely one of the many silver linings we are experiencing even as we read heartbreaking stories of migrants trekking hundreds of kilometres home as they face the twin spectres of starvation and joblessness.
One hears rumours of some areas in the city being barricaded but it is difficult to cross-check the veracity of these whispers. A phone call to a friend reveals her worst fears. A resident in her apartment building has tested positive and the building is in lockdown.
But she also reveals a positive side to this turn of events. She says that she is amazed at how this development has brought together previously disconnected residents. The children in this residential complex have reassured the older generation that they need not worry about procuring essential supplies, whether it is food or medicines.
They come round to each flat, collect lists of provisions required and arrange for delivery to the doorstep.
Stories of lockdown heroes abound such as the diploma holder in hotel management in Hyderabad who has been cooking and serving meals to the homeless in different areas of the city. Sweden’s Princess Sofia has begun doing shifts as a health care assistant in Stockholm.
There are countless groups that have collected money and distribute groceries and vegetables to needy families. It isn’t just people who have the means who are going out of their way to help others. An elderly vegetable seller and his wife decided to reach out to others by using their lifetime’s savings to buy food for those less fortunate than them.
What is even more commendable is the fact that their children have not objected to their desire to spend their money on others. A sanitation worker has donated Rs10,000 of her Rs12,000 salary to the chief minister’s relief fund.
These inspiring stories continue to unfold day by day, providing a ray of hope in a bleak landscape. On the other hand, such situations also breed charlatans who try to cash in on the fears of people.
An online business advertising a cure for Covid-19 was recently busted in Hyderabad. There has also been a rise in online scams as predators target gaming platforms and social media.
What I found interesting was the fact that often pandemics alter the landscape of a city. For example, modern Hyderabad owes its birth to the Bubonic plague that left a trail of death in 1911.
The outbreak provided the impetus for development of a modern city, with the City Improvement Board set up in 1912. So, something good can come out of seemingly disastrous situations.
I hope the Covid-19 outbreak teaches us some lessons that will stand us in good stead in the future. These include the importance of social distancing, learning to stand in a queue and maintaining good personal hygiene.
— Vanaja Rao is a freelance writer based in Hyderabad, India.