At 5.30 p.m. every evening, I stand on my balcony and observe the neighbourhood. The sky is blue with cotton puff clouds, and the gentle evening breeze teases the trees. But down below, there are fewer people and vehicles on the road. There is an unprecedented strangeness to everyday living.
Mundanities like shopping for bread, toilet paper, groceries and other simple tasks – that one did unthinkingly earlier – have now taken on new avatars. From bigger life questions about career prospects, investments and children’s education, we are preoccupied with questions such as – When to go shop? How many masks do we have? Has everybody sanitized their hands? Do we have adequate food supplies to ensure that we don’t go out often?
How could things have changed so quickly? Not even two months back, the Covid situation was unfolding slowly. Who ever thought that it would crash land thus on all parts of the world! Has any place been spared, has any community been spared? Life has become all about numbers now. We keep reading and reviewing the spike in the number of cases, trying to make sense of terms such as flattening the curve, circuit-breakers and the number of deaths. We have transitioned into virtual living, connecting to work, school and friends through our devices.
The annals of history romanticize the wars of old, where soldiers went to the battlefield, and ruthlessly fought the enemy, understood his every move and used that knowledge to vanquish him. Those wars needed manpower, they needed men to go out and fight.
This is a bizarre war, where soldiers are required to stay at home. The enemy is stealthy and has crossed battle lines and infiltrated our camp. We know that this enemy strikes at the powerful, the famous, the old and the weak, without mercy. We can combat this only by fighting solo, from the battlefields of our living rooms, by not giving the enemy a chance to gain strength.
Let us stand on our balconies and observe the world, let us clap and cheer for those who have taken up this cause, so that we may all be safe. Let us thank the government, the hospitals and all front-line workers for doing all they can. Let us stand on our balconies and not step out. Let us watch the enemy lose strength and fade into oblivion.