A close friend’s sister in Bengaluru recently had unexpected visitors who interrupted her afternoon siesta. Who else but pesky relatives who were “passing by” and decided to drop in for coffee, unannounced. The lady had been extra cautious all these months, hardly stepping out. There was more brewing. The next day, the visitor couple, ironically both doctors, called to break the news that they had tested positive for Covid. As feared, the jittery host has also been infected. If only she had not answered the door bell.
I’ve heard of several cases of reckless morons who have been gallivanting all over town and landing up at friends homes to catch up. Post the conscripted hospitality, predictably, they leave their Corona trail behind, tragically in homes where there are elderly people with co morbidities, or kids with low immunity. The consequences are often life threatening.
What rankles is that these ‘spreaders’ are invariably educated and well placed professionals. But education or affluence are different from common sense. There is no device to test it. Its effects are borne by innocent folks, who, despite the inconvenience and claustrophobia, have chosen to remain indoors, quite simply because they know they are vulnerable. No one relishes being under house arrest. We all like to stir out. Who doesn’t? But not everyone can afford that risk. Virgin immunity is not ideal. But the susceptible cannot be choosers.
The lockdown has undoubtedly been frustrating. It takes no superior intelligence to realise that the government’s decision to unlock stems not from a decreased threat perception but for sheer economic survival. Revival is still far fetched. It’s not as if Covid has left or taken a break. If anything, the numbers are rising alarmingly. But the negligence and cavalier attitude of many citizens is completely out of sync with the danger that stares us in the face, right at our respiratory track.
I’m not even going to get into the wearing of masks – many seemingly educated people going out without this protection or sporting them below their noses, on the chin or just around the neck, to quickly strap them on when a cop or health authority comes to check. Akin to those helmets placed on petrol tanks of two – wheelers. That we need an Ordinance and fines for compliance is shameful.
You can’t mess with this virus. Lower your guard even a wee bit and it hits you. A classmate, another doctor and son of an eminent heart surgeon, lost his mother to Covid. The poor lady had not stepped out of the house for months. The culprit was an asymptomatic driver who brought groceries. In another shocking case, an elderly couple was put under pressure and emotional blackmail by their relatives to attend a family ceremony. The grandfather had just undergone a surgery. In a few days, he contracted Covid and succumbed. A school teacher who was struggling to juggle between her online classes and domestic chores, finally called her maid back. In about a week, she tested positive and died. When are we going to wake up to the seriousness of this pandemic?
For those who choose to, or manage short holidays at resorts or eating out, and splash selfies on the social media, have fun. Break a leg. Hooray. Let’s even virtually hum ‘Surangani’ along with them. But if there are less fortunate families who are not so foot loose and fancy free, just let them be. Stay away. Got that? STAY AWAY.
It will be interesting to see if affected individuals or families start suing those who have infected them, for exemplary compensation. Or at the very least, for reimbursement of medical expenses. If common sense, civic mindedness and basic sensitivity are locked inside, a legal antidote may not be out of place.
In these times, it’s better to be rude or paranoid, than sorry.
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, Columnist, Author, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor of NDTV 24×7)