By Nivi Shrivastava
Just when we thought everything’s alright, humankind enters the year 2020, and things would never be same again.
The new normal: The year is 2020, and everything seemed “normal” as most of us would describe the time BC (Before Corona). In a world completely unaware, oblivious of a virus strain that leaked from a bat or a snake (no one knows, yet) and the aftermath of a lurking pandemic — things changed in no time. Most of us unwillingly played our parts in a global lockdown that engulfed the entire planet and struggled with some unexpected changes in our lives. Perhaps, this could be the biggest tragedy post-World War II as the confimed infections of COVID19 crossed a staggering 4.15 million worldwide (as per present official stats) and continues to shoot up. Which brings us to how it concerns you or me? Surprisingly, it does. Sharing personal notes about my quarantine experience was never my plan, but with this series, I hope to reach out to people who would relate to it. Dear readers, I expect you to not over-react or judge because ‘Hey! Not all isolations are gifts in hindsight.’ So here goes nothing.
A reluctant beta tester: To begin the story, let me quickly give you a little introduction about my life post-Covid19. As an independent journalist, I freelance for a couple of newspapers and travel quite a bit for various social media promotions. On the second week of March, I landed in Delhi after attending an enthralling Meghalayan Age festival hosted by the Meghalaya Tourism and E Factor, and saw my family leave before the lockdown officially hit India. I didn’t go because I wanted to join later, and that misjudgment snowballed into one of the longest isolations of my life – the never-ending lockdown 2020. As I would want my future self to remember, being alone and watching everyone head to their hometowns was one of the most confusing things for me because all this while I thought this would be over within a week and there’s no need to panic. But, I was so naïve to think that as my predictions for the crisis was so wrong. The fact that I could observe the world around me change, and there was no human to at home to discuss this with made me believe that I could be a beta tester in this situation and I started making notes about it.
Chronicles of the junta curfew: Just before the official nationwide lockdown on 24 March 2020 for 21 days was announced by the PM of India, a weekend of junta curfew (voluntary social-distancing) was ordered for a testing before a complete shutdown. The panic around COVID19 was already at its peak and people for no odd reason started hoarding food items in bulk. Reports (real and fake) around the Corona virus and its effects was all that mattered for a while, and after a point when I couldn’t bear the constant updates, I switched it off and decided to stay away for some time. Indian social media was flooded with half-baked reports of what’s going to happen next and how the virus could possibly die due to heat. Annoying videos of celebrities telling us to wash hands, wear a mask and stay indoors popped up on my timelines regularly and to my disappointment, the torture is still going on.
Global grieving begins: It is said that there are five stages of grieving – and so far I had already faced denial and isolation as well as the anger towards this unannounced tragedy. My worst fear about the sinking economy started kicking in as newspapers and publications (my primary source of income) started wrapping up for good. News of people losing jobs and stranded migrants across the world made it worse. At one point, I was so angry at the Chinese government for not alerting the world about the disease. In the USA, Italy and Spain deaths due to COVID19 cases were going up each day, and soon every other nation was preparing to battle this calamity.
Amidst, all these disturbing news from across the globe, I read about the Chinese planning to go back to work again and they re-opened the wet markets of Wuhan that were responsible for this disease, and it made me wonder if this wasn’t a human error but a well-planned bio war. Could someone be so cruel to kill innocent lives and build an economy on it? By the next phase, I think I was ready to bargain, get really depressed and accept this part of life as reality.
(to be continued …)