Stay Safe. Stay Smiling!


Indu Ramchandani

While we are experiencing the ‘Covid-ification’ of everything around us and as our lives continue to spin in a relentless and unfathomable cycle of uncertainty, the one thing that somehow still makes sense, “tomorrow is another day”.

I have ruthlessly sifted through all the idiomatic references to our lives, as a collective unit. From “it goes without saying”, and “this is a given”; from “that’s for sure”, and “you can bet your life”, we have been so “on top of it”, and yet all of that would amount to “pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes”. It has slowly and steadily dawned on us, that the only certainty of life is its uncertainty. Today, we just wait to go through the day, peacefully and comfortably. If that is possible we are twice blessed because millions are not in that comfort zone.

The very concept of comfort zone has changed. How content was humanity in its chosen comfort zone! Racing ahead in the quest of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, metaphorically burning rubber just to stay in the “Formula-1” event of life. We looked around, without really seeing. So content were we in figuring out our unique ways of staying in the race that ‘me’ and ‘mine’ took eternal precedence over anything or everyone else.  

Those sleeping under the flyovers and bridges, over which we whizzed past in our perennial haste, were always there, but for us, they were innocuously etched into the landscape. Their comfort zone was the one meal they could somehow manage; if that was possible, they lay back, covering their ill-clad bodies with frayed sheets and slept in peace. They were everywhere, sprawled out on the cycle-rickshaws that gave them the daily bread; the mobile carts or the wheelbarrows, which were their shops by day and beds by night. Today they are all gone. Hustled away in the fear of a killer virus, hiding in some remote corner, and wondering with bated breath, what will kill them first, the virus or starvation. Those who could, did, migrate to their hometowns.

Businesses have shut down, jobs are lost, families separated, and fear dominates. The charts and the news give numbers and more numbers. From hundreds to thousands, and now millions. As people die, others like us cringe further indoors, secure in the safety of our homes. Locked down or lockout, we just wait, one day at a time. Some of us thank our lucky stars, others complain of boredom, many miss the hustle and bustle, restless and almost resentful, but within the sanctity of their homes. But everyone waits, to see what tomorrow brings. 

Millions are out there, however, fighting for others, they are risking everything to save yet another life, or to bring relief to another human being who is gasping for breath. If each one in the “Florence Nightingale Brigade”, or the valiant soldiers for providing essential services, I fold my hands in reverence. 

But what will tomorrow bring? One day, someday, this frenetic whirlpool of Covid-19 will slow its pace. Like its predecessors, this disease will also become another name, and just as one takes SARS, Ebola, H1N1, or Swine Flu, as a disease out there, which lurks in nooks and crannies for unsuspecting prey, the novel Covid-19 will not be so novel, and will join that hall of infame. Then what? Is humanity going to rewind, reset, and play, going fast forward as it always has? Humanity made its recoveries and moved on after the WW-I and WW-II; after the Holocaust; after Partition in India, and the freedom struggles of all colonies around the world; the faces of empires changed but humanity did not stop. The dates of terror and darkness such as 9/11 in the US, 26/11 in India, 7/7 in the UK and countless others came and went, humanity reeled, lost and recovered. 

And today, we listen to forecasts and predictions, and speculate: maybe by September, life will be normal again? Or by the end of the year? And this brings up the keyword – normal. Today, social distancing and wearing a mask is normal, washing hands n-number of times is normal; staying indoors is also normal. Will we learn the one big lesson from this? That it is okay to slow down; it is okay not to be in a race if it is not necessary. It is okay that while some have to be the movers and shakers, it is not essential for all of us? If those who can, do hold back, then it will be easier for others to surge forward. Nature is ready to embrace us and let us breathe easy, so long as we are ready to give her space too. 

All of us do not need to be out there all the time to feel that we are real, can we stay back for the safety of everyone? Reality is within, and life has taught us this invaluable lesson, are we ready to learn? Can we step back? Tomorrow is another day, and in that tomorrow let us reflect on what we see today.