Complete Lock-down7 mins 365 7 mins 365
“Every state, district, a village in India is under lockdown from midnight. There will be a complete bar on people from steeping outsides their homes. Just do one thing, stay at home! Today’s decision of countrywide lockdown has drawn a Lakshman Rekha around the door of your house,” the Prime Minister of India addressed our nation through media.
“Oh my God,” a lady screams on hearing this.
Her children nod. They are playing with toys in the living room. Her husband agitates, who sits on the sofa. He never expected an invisible virus can let down a country just like that.
“Why are you sitting?” his wife thundered, “get out of home and buy vegetables and groceries for next one month immediately.”
Her husband gives a furtive look and wakes up to execute his wife’s order. He himself is a teacher and his wife Malavika works as a beautician. Now she throws a jute bag to him, he catches it and moves on, but his children tug on his lungi and ask him to bring them to the market.
The journalist on TV says, “There are eight more new cases affected by Coronavirus confirmed by the state government. It is the indication that the community spread is going to start. People should be confined to their homes to break the chain of further spread.”
Kathir just heard this and takes it lightly and heading to the market along with his kids, Jyothika and Darshan. His wife heartily shakes her hand to bid them bye. They walk to the market, which is one kilometer away from their house. The children are happy to go out as they jogged along the road touching everything playfully. The old man who crosses on their path coughs and spit on the road, it sprays on Darshan, who wipes his face with his unclean hand and goes ahead joyfully as if his father leads them to the excursion.
Kathir meets his friend on the way, who is dark and has a tummy.
“Hello Kathir, how are you doing?” he exhilarates on seeing his friend after two weeks.
“Hmm, doing good. How about you and your family?” Kathir asks with full of smile, leaving his children to roam behind him.
They both shake hands. Elango who returns from a meat shop doesn’t even hesitate to shake hands with his friend.
“Yeah, everyone is doing good. But I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the next three weeks if the coronavirus spreads vigorously,” Kathir says with caution.
“Leave that nonsense. This government has always put a burden on common people. Earlier GST, now coronavirus,” Elango fumes as shaking his head.
For Kathir, his statement doesn’t make sense. They release their hands.
“But it is something serious,” Kathir says and pulls Jyothika his side as lorry crosses them, the horn blaring out loudly and the driver scolds them for blocking the road.
But they continue talking.
“Let it be. I’m not bothered,” Elango says and averts his attention at kids, “so you brought your children for the market?”
Kathir smiles, “Yes, they asked to come out. I don’t know how the coming days will be, so I pulled them along.”
He still doesn’t realize the impact of bringing them now. If he really understands how serious the current situation is, he wouldn’t have brought them. Even though he is a teacher, he still doesn’t know how vital is to follow social distancing.
“Oh,” Elango says and bends his back and pulls Darshan’s cheeks, “Hey champ, how are you doing?”
Darshan says abruptly, “Doing fine.” He then drops his head.
Elango looks at Jyothika, “So what about you?”
Jyothika tugs her father and gives a gentle nod but don’t speak anything.
“Jyothi, he is Swapna’s father. Don’t you speak to him?”
Though she seldom plays with Swapna, she is not inclined to put a happy face now. Their families hardly meet each other. Swapna is two years elder to Jyothi who studies the first standard.
“It’s okay,” Elango ruffles her hair and looks again Kathir, “So what’s your plan for the next two weeks?”
“Staying in-home,” Kathir guffaws.
“You are a government staff, but I am a private guy,” Elango twists his lips. “I have to work to save my family.”
Elango and Kathir both studied in the same school. But Elango dropped out of school at the eighth standard as he wasn’t interested to continue. He works as a construction contractor now, earns well to feed his three children. Though he wasn’t much affected by this lock-down, the daily cooli workers who count their days on this construction work are affected tremendously. They don’t know how to take care of their family, they are tensed. The IT guys or teachers can choose to work from home option, but what about them?
Kathir doesn’t say anything, he knew this conversation would end bitterly.
“I’ll leave now, I have to buy vegetables,” Kathir says.
Elango knows why his friend cut short him. He kisses Jyothika on her cheek and says bye to them.
They stop at the market. The crowd is huge. People throngs here like bees after the state government’s announcement that section 144 will be imposed from 6 pm for the next three weeks. A complete lock-down. A welcome step to eradicate the deadly Covid-19 spread, but it has its own side effects. This has created a jolt of panic among the people, thinking they should stock up everything immediately in spite of the fact that the government has clearly told the basic needs of the common man would be fulfilled. The ration will be brought to the home and thousand rupees as relief funds will be given to every family during this lock-down period. Milk and groceries and vegetables and water can be availed 24/7. But people start gathering in herds to buy vegetables and mulling each other after the announcement of section 144, by risking their own lives along with others.
“Give me five kgs of beans,” a lady asks the seller.
She never brought more than half kg in her life, even the vegetable seller gives a nod and smiles. He knows how stupid she is. She doesn’t even wear a safety mask and touches the people nearby, raising the chance of the coronavirus contraction to others. She was trying to kill others without understanding the insane act of her. The doctors already asked people to stand at least one 1-meter distance apart to not let the virus sit on us. Are we following it?
A stout man asks, “Give me ten kgs of all vegetables,” his poke marked face tightens.
People started hollering. They jump over and quote, “For me seven kgs of carrot……for me eight kgs of onion……for me fifteen kgs of tomato…..”
The crowd pushes an old man aside, who coughs recurrently.
The seller had never seen vegetables are selling like hot biriyani, but now. He worries because people don’t have the patience to buy it one by one, leave alone social-distancing. Kathir wants to push himself into the crowd to buy the vegetables, but can’t move ahead with kids around.
“Dad, I want pineapple,” Jyothika asks as nods the fruitseller.
“No, should buy vegetables before we buy anything,” Kathir says strictly.
Jyothika twists her face and doesn’t speak more. She is grumpy now.
“At least buy Ice creams for us,” Darshan put an earnest appeal.
On hearing this, Kathir yanks them to the other vegetable shop, to avoid them looking at fruit and ice creams shops nearby. But here the crowd is huge than the earlier shop.
One woman sneezes without kerchief in hand, as it sprays on the vegetable seller, who does nothing to save himself. His concentration is to sell more. He puts eggplants into the jute bag and hands it to the woman, who coughs now. No awareness, nothing. People are staying there without knowing that there is an invisible enemy lurking somewhere near to kill them. What is the purpose of the government to bring in section 144? To go out and spread the virus to many? No, the government is asking people to stay home. Asking people to come out only if it is absolutely necessary, limiting to a single person from any family. Not to the crowd and spread the disease to others. It can spread easily, the virus has the potential. Just like how a spark can destroy a forest, the virus can destroy a whole nation if we don’t give an attention it needs. Of course, there is no need for panic, but respecting the doctor fraternity and listening to their advice is a must in a situation like this. If the community spread happens, then we will go out of control and people will die in clusters as we see already in Italy. What we are learning from this? What self-awareness we inculcated to our children? We put the entire nation in jeopardy if we take this lockdown lightly. We might lose millions of lives just in six months. It’s not a joke. Every life is precious to us and to be protected. It is our duty to respect the government’s decision and be a responsible citizen. Let stay home and save our nation!