Undoubtedly each one of us have been affected by this pandemic, wave after wave. A tsunami that appeared a year ago, partly disappeared and reappeared yet again this year like an evil tease and has sucked us into an abyss of despair. Some suffered and continue to suffer a lot more than others as they lost their near and dear ones. Worldwide, everybody has had their share of suffering as God sits in His armchair and watches his creation dying by the hundreds of thousands. I am not sure exactly at what stage will He decide to forgive us, humans, for all our transgressions but at this stage, it looks like He has settled down comfortably with a nonstop supply of buttered popcorn as He watches His version of Earth TV.
We Indians primarily will always blame karma and God for all catastrophic events in this country. It’s always easier to blame the formless and we also have this uncanny habit of making ourselves guilty as hell. Clarity of thought follows much after the blame game and pinpointing starts. Let’s look at the typical way we have been blaming ourselves for the catastrophe. We did not wear a mask, we did not maintain social distancing, we went for a wedding where we were falling over each other at the rabadi and jalebi counter, we should not have had the birthday bash in the local pub, etc. This is a typical first round of taking the blame game. Yes, undoubtedly our carelessness is the reason the virus latches on and makes us its host for its party to commence. But, it is not the primary reason.
So, between episodes of blaming ourselves and the creator and karma, somewhere there are flashes of brilliance while we sit at home pondering. We realise that yes, karma is slapping us so hard it knocked us off our feet for decades of our plundering of natural resources. So much so, that viruses from Wuhan have made every spec of Earth’s terrain it’s home. I will not be surprised if those viruses even talk to each other in mandarin or Cantonese. We take the blame mercilessly upon ourselves. Then when there is a lockdown and we are made to sit still and our sense of normalcy has been snatched away, we start thinking differently. When our family and friends and colleagues are dying without oxygen and medical care we are furious and we start questioning. Could this entire mess have been avoided? Could the scale of disaster be lower? Why did we not see it coming? Why were we not prepared? Alas, it is too late to even ask?
We have been conditioned to accept and digest a lot of idiosyncratic situations without much of a fuss. Standing in a line, and jostling for space is a habit so deeply inculcated in us that it is impossible to shrug it off. Exactly the reason why the virus perhaps spreads so easily. Our humungous population being another reason to jostle for space and our leaders, especially our current PM has made this the new normal. He has after all made us stand in an endless winding line to take out our own cash from the ATMs during demonetisation, migrants too stood in endless lines to take buses out of the cities after sudden lockdown announcements struck them all down like lightning, Covid patients standing in line for admissions in hospital or for oxygen cylinders, people standing in line outside vaccination centers. You see the pattern? We have been conditioned to accept this is as normal. After all, people don’t fuss when they stand in a line for alcohol or movie tickets, so why would anybody fuss now is what our leaders cleverly thought. And we have not raised any objections to all of this. Sadly and finally the line today is winding down at crematoriums as well. There is also a line of bodies that are floating on the river Ganga, ironically the holiest of them all. I am certain the river swells from her own tears today.
So, when we look beyond ourselves, look beyond karma and God , we need to look at the current leadership and ask why were the obvious omens not heeded to? The BJP had come up with some jocular explanation of common narratives and deemed it to be the truth. In February 2021, the BJP hailed its leader victorious in his battle against Covid and that he had convincingly won the war. The party commended the government’s Covid-19 response, and in the resolution said while the world was “speculating over how India with its vast population and limited health care infrastructure” would face the challenge, it can be “said with pride that India not only defeated Covid under the able, sensitive, committed and visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi but also infused in all its citizens the confidence to build an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’. In a somersault in March 2021, the party claims that the leader had warned the states of the second wave and yet the chief minister of Uttarakhand had close to 35 lakh pilgrims standing in a line on the banks of the river Gang jostling for space with each other. You stood in a line to cast your votes when there was a raging pandemic because the leader said it was a festival of democracy. Now you see how the virus spread? It’s all in the long winding lines. No God created those lines, you did not create the line, your leader who made you stand in the line created those horrible lines. That’s how the virus spread because you have allowed those lines to be created and you became a part of the line. When you step out of this line is when the country will change. But, will you?
Today I was standing in yet another line at the neighbourhood grocery store that opens between 6 AM and 10 AM and I thought, from Aatmanirbhar Bharat we have moved to Aatmashanthi status, from lighting diyas we are lighting funeral pyres, from banging vessels in our balconies with chest-thumping bravado we are blowing conches in funerals. The line Modified ( no pun intended here ) everything.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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