Should we Have a Virus Day?
The opening line may not sound comfortable to many of us but the unchanged fact will remain the same; we are all selfish and can never do or appreciate things until it has affected us. We are full of praise for the Army when the country is at war. We are thankful to the plumber when he fixes the leaking pipe. We thank the electrician when he fixes the power issue in the middle of the night. When we are caught on the wrong foot, we address the police constable as SIR.
Currently we are thanking the Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics and the sanitary workers. We remain grateful till our interest is fulfilled. Once our interest is over, we don’t hesitate to bargain price with the plumber and electrician. We don’t hesitate using foul language for the police and armed force. We don’t hesitate to physically assault the health worker and show where the sanitary worker stands. Surprisingly even God has not been spared from this. He is remembered in time of problems and forgotten once our smile is back on our lips.
Why do we behave in such a manner? The answer is probably with our mother. We have crossed the age of caste discrimination long time back but there is another discrimination that is growing silently: discrimination on the basis of work. To empower the woman folk, a maid is appointed; one is empowered while the other is exploited. We are taught to develop taste for the food cooked by the maid and at the same time we are taught not to sit with her and eat. The maid will have a different set of utensils. We are taught where the electrician or the plumber will sit once the task is over. We are taught who is big and who do we consider small.
We are groomed from our childhood to be a doctor, engineer, lawyer and administrator; the other professions are never considered dignified. I hold the mother responsible for my selfish behavior; she never taught me anything about dignity of labour. When the lockdown was announced, everyone ran to stock grocery. This grocery was never grown by any of the so-called dignified professionals.
We have been running very fast breaking all traffic laws. The virus has offered us an opportunity to relax and think about our past doings so that we can correct the future. I remember as a kid the greatest joy was greeting a guest at home. A guest at home meant good food prepared by my mother. As time moved, the homemade snacks were replaced with assorted biscuits, bhujia and sweets. The process did not stop here; a guest at home now means arrival of Swiggy and Zomato. Since ages, a day consisted of twenty four hours, it is same even today. This lockdown made me nostalgic when I witnessed the remaking of all the old time snacks at my home and on Facebook. I want you to ask yourself, why have we discontinued our traditions? Are we doing justice with our division of daily time? Are we living a life of excuse?
The virus did not just reactivate our gastronomical settings; it has also ignited our buried or hidden talents. I find people have started drawing, painting and playing with colors. The singer is no more confined to the bathroom. The beat of the drum is now confident and the string of the guitar has found its tune. Empty bottles have turned designer and the old jeans has been reinvented with a makeover. The terrace is no long empty; flowers are blooming all around.
Vegetables are being grown at home and children are being instructed not to waste food as a lot of hard work has gone into their growing. The virus has exposed the buried talent; the buried talent has finally germinated. At the end of the day I see the television being ignored by my family members, everyone busy playing a board game together. This virus has brought family members together. Each one is trying to help the other do his/her work. At this point I need to ask you: will you be the same as you are now after the lockdown is over?
The virus has created social distancing but it has also narrowed the heart-to-heart gap. We are now speaking with relatives and friends as earlier we could never manage time. We now understand and respect the vegetable, poultry, fish, grocery vendor etc. We understand the hard work of a farmer. We have understood work is not everything, being alive and living is a blessing. We have always had special days to celebrate relationships and occasions. We have dedicated days for mother, father, sister, brother, lover etc.
An invisible element called Corona Virus taught us the biggest lesson of our life: respect everyone, respect all professions, and respect dignity of labour. It is in such time we understand the fine fabric connecting our society and realize that we don’t need specific instruction to clap for someone’s effort. We can thank everyone, everyday, with a thank you and a smile. At this point I ask you, can we not have a VIRUS DAY? A day to remind us that we are human and we need to behave like one.
(The author is a writer, poet and columnist. The views expressed by the author are his own.)