For past more than 3 months (God only knows how much more in future), we have been hearing, talking, breathing, dreaming only one thing – Corona, Corona and Corona. These 3 months have redefined mankind in its entirety. The anxiety and fear is imaginable by the very fact that a person is afraid of his sneeze, a mild temperature or throat irritation. Much has been mentioned about the scientific aspects of Covid-19 (Corona) and in this age of internet and the social media, I bet each one of us is aware of this pandemic more than the other. I have something different to dwell upon. Let us see how these past three months (Corona Times) has affected some aspects of our life.
Corona (karona) in local parlance means – to do, but in reality it didn't allow us to do what we routinely have done for our entire life, be it 10 or 70 years. How can we instantaneously order our hands not to caress/touch our face and fiddle with its borders and boundaries if we have been doing so even before our birth? How can we lock a person suddenly who has been a free bird all his/her life? How can we ask him to dream even during the day when he even had no time to get a sound sleep? How can we stop people from going to the religious places all of a sudden when this practice has been centuries old? How can one stop socializing all of a sudden and enter a cocoon? All difficult things to do suddenly, it takes time. Corona has been an exact antonym (mat karona ) of what it means locally.
The biggest take of Corona times is the 'numbers'. Right from the start we were shown and readily remembered the numbers which with time have spiraled into an unending conundrum. To begin with it was just the number of positives, later it was number of tests done. Initially we looked at China, later Italy, and subsequently the US and once India got involved we looked at the pan India numbers to be followed by the individual states, followed by 10 top states, followed by our own state. The most relevant, most awaited and most dreaded news at the end of the day still is "az keatha drai" (how many tested positive today). It was initially a news brief on daily basis called the 'media brief' by administrators but with each passing day they too became so confused by the numbers that they left the brief to the individual testing centers. From total positives, to total tested, to district wise counts, to number of recoveries, to percentages of recoveries, believe me all of us lost the count and felt giddy to the extent that many just brush them aside. These numbers just bring fear and believe me many lose their sleep on hearing the ever growing numbers.
"On-line" is what was the second most common term in vogue during the corona times. 4G connectivity may have made it more attractive than the available 2G. Online classes by various schools as well as the private tuition centers is what kept the children in and busy, albeit with difficulties due to the speed issues. Activities like various medical, business, political, administrative webinars were all held online and various platforms like Zoom, Meet, GoToWebinar, Teams were new entrants into the downloaded app on various smart phones and computers. With time these too many webinars are getting stale for lack of that personal touch one gets on a real one to one/many meetings. People have also been thoughtfully looking at all aspects of corona, got innovative with many videos, caricatures, comments, commentaries posted on all social media platforms adding some laughs in these sordid times.
Corona time has been an official/unofficial paid holiday to many employees working in government sector, teachers and office staff to name a few. Many were paid full, some half, many furloughed (kept in job but paid nothing). It may prove to be same albeit for a limited period and at a reduced/no salary for the ones working in private sector. But jobs, like a rainbow after the rains, may vanishes quickly. And for migrants it has been a loss all the way, they lost the job, accommodation, earnings, and even lost self or the way back home. At the same time, it has been overwork for many others, the health, local administration, revenue, municipality ran amok with work.
With lots of sitting in for all the families, one of the favorite past time has been the kitchen. Everyone is jumping into it to try their hands on anything. With life quite easier and anything that one need to learn on one's fingertips one easily googles/YouTubes to know every aspect of cooking, baking or whatever he/she wants to. What people have learnt is how to bake, cake and make many items which otherwise they never get the chance of doing with the busy schedules each of us had. Also all households are on to the cleaning spree and all unnecessary stuff has been dealt with and each home is cleaned, refreshed and rejuvenated.
In these times, the norm that we were so much tuned to, be it the congregations, the groups, the parties, the meets, the rallies have all given way to physical distancing and people shrunk to individuals or family. Despite being dissociated people have come together in a different sense with help being rendered by many for their poor and deserving to sustain on day to day basis. It has united us for helping those who have been rendered jobless due to the lockdown norms.
Corona gave us enough, rather too much of a sleep. No outdoors, no work for most so they would just eat, sit and sleep. But this sleep was not that satisfying as people would dream bad in sleep, dream about the sad state of affair that a person is in. Also in these times many of those who were forced indoors, lost livelihood, became panicky and suffered mentally and some even turned maniac. Depression, anxiety have worsened in a mentally crippled society already been affected by three decades of conflict.
Though mosques were shut with police ensuring the same and as such people got a chance to have prayers at home only. Both young and old in many households led the prayers and how the month of Ramadhan came and left is anybody's guess. Confidence to lead a prayer is a bonus in many households, thanks to these times.
Corona made us realize family, love for and from family, care for and from family. Many of us were so engrossed in our daily routine that we had forgotten the value of our family. Corona may have taken us away from the friends but this has made us realize what friends are and how much granted we may have taken them in times normal.
Tail-piece: Many years back we had this maecz (mentally unstable lady) in our vicinity who on provocation by kids would utter this ignominious line – "gaczh gasenaw maskee soorat" (let you get disgraced/dishonored). May God save all of us from that verbal abuse but a simile to her utterance has come true in these corona times— it is literally "maskee soorat" (masked faces) for all of us.
Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Srinagar