The Band of Hope
The Band of Hope
“All of you in one line…!” Inspector Marcus gave orders.
Being a policeman, he had to maintain the order on the roads in the ongoing pandemic, which had caused the whole world to shutdown. Using masks and gloves was compulsory to his entire team so that they don’t get infected. Continuous usage of the Mask caused lots of lines and marks on his face, but now, he was used to it.
“Maintain distance please…!” he again gave orders to the group of people queued outside a medical shop. It was raining heavily and the state had ordered a complete shutdown of all the activities to avoid spreading of the disease. People were only allowed to come out for purchasing essential commodities and medicines.
Today he was posted just next to the Grand Shopping Mall in the entire city.
Holding an umbrella, he looked around. There was hardly any traffic on the road.
All the shops, the mall, the garden next to it, the metro station, the food outlets outside, the Grand entry to the city university, all of it was closed.
“Time to leave, Marc…” his assistant called out. Marcus came out of his thoughts and glanced at this watch. It was 7:00 PM. His shift was about to get over.
“See you mate…!” Marcus greeted his colleague. Handing over the torch to him, he then crossed the road and stood at the pavement, glancing at the huge mall façade.
Before the pandemic, he was the security in charge of the mall. He remembered how kids used to play in the open area in the front garden. He remembered the food kiosks, the most crowded ones on the entire road. All the teenagers from the neighbouring City University used to come there in the evening. The garden outside was always full of people, cheering happily. It was a good hangout space for all citizens. The metro station was always hustling with people. This was the most happening corner in the entire city.
The loud siren of a speeding ambulance splashing water brought him back to his senses. His house was not too far from here. Usually, a patrol vehicle used to drop him at his place. Today, however, he preferred to go walking.
As he walked a few steps ahead, he came across a series of benches where couples used to sit every day. He then remembered his little daughter and his wife.
His wife had gone to meet her mother, taking their daughter with her. He himself had gone to drop her about three weeks back. But now, due to the lockdown, they were stuck in the other city.
As he walked holding the umbrella, trying to avoid the rain, he saw a small poster pasted on a wall. It depicted the Planet earth wearing a mask.
Somehow that picture intrigued him. He took that off the wall and put it in his pocket.
“Hey Mom…I managed to get some groceries. Wash them all please while I’ll have a shower…” he said as he entered his house. Placing the wet umbrella on the stand, he placed all the groceries at the door. Like everyday, his mom had kept the flower vase next to the door full of different coloured Lilies.
Removing his shoes, he first went inside the toilet and washed his hands with liquid soap. He washed his feet, then removed his drenched clothes and kept them in the washer.
After having a shower, he came at sat at his desk. He then removed the poster from his pocket and looked at it.
Planet earth covering herself with a mask.
“What is it, son?” his old mom asked him. He then showed her the picture.
“Our Planet’s not well…” Feeling sad, Marcus said, “This pandemic has caused everything to shut down. How nice were our older days…! I used to work at the mall. Things were so happy in those times. All the people were having a good time. And then, suddenly everything changed. Social distancing, avoiding crowded places has become mandatory. You know what, mom? Today at the supermarket, only the grocery section was open. A small kid was standing outside the toy section, which was barricaded. An old lady was sadly looking at the clothing section, which was closed. There’s dullness everywhere. Even during daytime, I feel there is no light of hope. Some days later, things may become better, but still, no one will feel normal. We have no choice, mom. We have only darkness ahead of us…!”
His mom came and sat next to him.
“Son, I know your depressed because your wife and daughter are not with you. We all are in this together. There is darkness all around, everyone is living in fear. The situation is hopeless and terrible, but remember, there is always a ray of hope. There is always a small particle of light in the dark. There is always something to be happy, to be grateful about….”
“But who will get this ray of hope, this particle of light for us…?” Marcus questioned.
“Everyone has a choice, son. You have a choice whether to live in darkness or to light a candle. You have a choice to feel sad, or to keep a smile on your face. You have a choice either to spread fear or to spread happiness wherever you go. You always have a choice whether to face the wall or to face the beautiful world in front of it.”
Getting up, she said, “Dinner will be ready, dear. As usual like every day, I’ve cooked a different dish for you today” Saying this, his mom left.
What choice do I have? How can I be the ray of light? Marcus thought.
His mobile buzzed, bringing him out of his senses.
It was time for him to connect with his daughter.
They had made a rule, that every evening at the same time, his daughter and wife would connect on video chat.
“Hi Honey….!” Marcus said as he saw his daughter on the video screen.
“Hi dad…how was your day...?” Cindy, his daughter, asked him in her little kiddish voice.
“It was cool, dear…I hope you don’t trouble Grandma too much...!” Marcus answered back.
He then took his guitar. As a teenager, he had always loved to play the instrument. Every day, even after marriage, he used to play guitar for his wife and now for his daughter.
“Hey little one, you know what song I’ll be playing today…?” saying this, he then placed his guitar on his lap and started playing “Daughters” by John Mayer.
“Amazing Dad…just loved it….!” Cindy clapped happily. “I’ve recorded this song…and I’ll play it whenever I’ll miss you…!”
“Thanks, dear…it is late night now…go to sleep…” Marcus said, keeping aside his guitar.
As Cindy left, his wife, Alura then took over the chat.
“Hey honey... you know what…just two blocks away from here…one lady was tested positive. Oh my god….it was so terrible there. All the police, ambulances, everything was fearful…! We had to stay inside our homes to avoid any contact with anyone….”
Marcus never heard the complete sentence. All he kept wondering was how much negativity the city has taken over. He then remembered most of his conversations with many people were only about the pandemic. People only spoke about the infected and how the Government was struggling to tackle it. Even now, his wife never asked about his day, his work schedule. She only discussed about the disease.
There’s a lot of negativity, panic everywhere. Everyone is afraid and concerned about their family and their own health. No one is giving positive news nowadays, Marcus thought. It's like this pandemic has kept all their life on one side, but is it necessary that people should only focus on the bad happenings?
“Marc…. what happened...?” Marcus came back to his senses after he heard Alura’s voice on the video call.
“Nothing…. just feeling sleepy.” Saying this, he blew a flying a flying kiss to his wife and disconnected the call.
After having dinner, he washed the utensils and was going back to his room. While crossing his mom’s bedroom, he saw that she fell asleep while watching a film of Charlie Chaplin.
At that moment, he realised what his mom was saying to him before dinner.
Everyone has a choice, son.
Instead of watching the latest news on the TV which were full of the cause and effects of the pandemic, she choose to watch comedy films, which kept her mood uplifted. She had never spoken anything about the pandemic to him till now. He also remembered that she every day cooked a new dish for him and herself. Every day she kept new Lily flowers in the vase at the entrance.
She made a choice to stay happy in current situation.
As he lay down on his bed, he thought about the event of the past days. People in the city themselves choose to be negative. He had never met any person other than his mom who kept a positive outlook towards life.
He then decided to make a choice for himself. He decided to spread positivity wherever he went. He decided to help people as much as he could. He decided to try and be the ray of light in someone’s life.
The next day, after waking up early, he finished his exercises at home. Then he sat down at his study table and took out small papers the size of visiting cards. On all the papers, he scribbled something using a marker pen.
As he was about to leave, he picked up fresh Lily flowers that his mom had kept in the Vase adjacent to the door.
It was a pleasant sunny day today. The rain showers had made the entire climate cooler than usual. He decided to walk till his area of posting. Wearing gloves and a mask, he checked the small papers in the top pocket of his uniform.
After walking for a short distance, he saw two masked women returning back after purchasing groceries. As he walked past them, he greeted them and gave them a Lily flower and one small paper from his pocket and continued walking.
After walking some steps, he glanced behind and saw both the women waving back at him happily. He smiled at them and continued his walk.
Soon he reached his posting area in front of the Grand Mall. People had queued to purchase essential medicinal supplies and some groceries. He then went to every person standing in the queue, greeted them and gave each one of them one small paper from his pocket.
As everyone took it, all of them greeted him back, smiling behind their masks.
He kept giving these handwritten cards to random people as he stood guiding. They all read what was written on it and smiled back at him.
Marcus started feeling happy as he did this. Every person whom he gave the small paper acknowledged him back, by raising their thumbs up.
After some time, all his papers got over. He intentionally kept the last one in his pocket. Today he was feeling much happier, in fact he had never felt this cheerful in the last so many days.
“Hey Marc…. what were you giving out to those people?” his colleague called out and asked him.
“Nothing mate, just a positive message,” Marcus answered back and gave him the last piece left is his pocket.
Six words were neatly written in the middle of that paper:
THIS TOO… SHALL PASS.
“Keep that with you...you’ll require it.” Marcus replied.
The whole day, he maintained orders and spoke very politely to every person he came around.
That night, after a nice, happy dinner with his mother, he sat down for a video chat with his daughter.
“Hey little one, you know what song I’ll be playing for you today…?” saying this, he placed his guitar on his lap and started playing “Bubbly” by Colbie Caillat.
“Wonderful…!” Cindy appreciated her dad’s talent, “I’ve recorded your every song that you’ve played since the lockdown started. I listen to them whenever I miss you…”
“I also miss you, little one…” Marcus said.
After having a short chat with his wife, he disconnected the call and fell asleep.
The next day, after finishing his exercises, he again wrote the same six words on small pieces of paper and kept them in his pocket. While leaving for his posting, he again took two fresh lilies from the vase.
Today, he took a different route while walking towards the area where he was posted. While walking, he came across an old lady who was returning back to her house. He handed one lily to her with the small paper. As she read it, she smiled and blessed him.
As he kept walking further, he gave those small papers to a few people who crossed him. Everyone greeted him back after reading what was written on the paper. As he started spreading more happiness and positivity around him, he received much more satisfaction and joy in return. All throughout the day, he never thought at all about the pandemic and its worse effects. His mind kept focussing on more and more positive things to be grateful for.
“Hey little one…how are you doing?” Marcus asked his daughter Cindy that night as he started a video call.
“I’m doing good. Dad, you know what? I had recorded all of the songs that you had sung for me on video chat. Today, just for fun, I uploaded one of the videos on You tube.”
Marcus was surprised as he heard this.
“You really did that?” he asked.
“Yes dear…” His wife Alura joined them in the chat. “We were just searching for some videos on YouTube when suddenly Cindy gave me this idea.”
“Yes dad...” Cindy replied, “And you know what… the video got a very good response…!” she then shared her screen so that Marcus could see what she was trying to show him.
He then saw a video of himself playing guitar and singing a song. She then scrolled down further and as Marcus saw it, he was totally astonished.
“I’ve received more than 1000 likes for it…? In such a short time…?” Marcus replied, feeling amazed by what he saw.
“Yes…!” Alura replied back, “and people have commented very nice things on it…!”
Marcus then saw that many people had given very good comments to him. Most of them had appreciated his talent as a good singer and guitarist.
All three of them then decided that they will upload more videos of him.
That night, before he disconnected the call, he sang the song “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty and playing the tunes on his Guitar.
As he went to sleep, he remembered and felt grateful for all the beautiful moments that happened throughout the day.
For the next 3-4 days, he kept doing the same practice, passing the message written on small pieces of paper to every person.
Soon people came to know about the wonderful act that he was doing. Some even started giving him flowers as a token for all the positivity that he was spreading.
Every night, his daughter recorded and uploaded new videos of him singing and playing guitar. His videos now started getting more and more likes and loads of positive comments. Some people even commented that they love to listen to his songs whenever they feel negative or stressed.
“You are getting more and more popular, dad…” Cindy told him happily that night while on video chat, “Your song “Daughters” has received more than 10,000 likes…!”
“Thanks to you, dear one,” Marcus replied, “It was you who uploaded these videos on internet.!”
Soon he came to be known as the guy with the guitar in his locality.
“Hey dad, you’re on the Daily news…!” Cindy almost screamed in delight when she called on Marcus’s mobile that evening. Startled, Marcus switched on the TV.
The news reporter was describing about a certain cop who spreads positivity in the day by giving out small papers with a positive message and fresh lily flowers and sings wonderful songs while playing guitar at night. His photo in Police uniform and his name was also displayed in the above corner. “In today’s world of negativity and stress, this cop has become a ray of light in many people’s life. Many citizens have now decided to carry forward his way of spreading positiveness.” The news reporter said. That night, as he sang the song “Hey There Delilah” on the video, Alura told him that all of his videos are viewed by many people and almost every video has received around 1,00,000 likes.
The next morning, as he was on the way, one lady came to him with a small paper and white lily. She gave it to him and greeted him happily. Marcus opened the folded paper. It read:
THIS TOO… SHALL PASS.
“We have also decided to start this movement, sir…!” the lady said. Marcus happily appreciated the paper and gave her one of his own.
He now became the famous cop in the city. Wherever he went, people appreciated him for the wonderful work that he was doing. Even when he was standing on his duty, those small amounts of people who were outside cherished his efforts and well-being that he was doing. His videos started getting more and more likes from many users.
Every night, he still sang for his daughter while playing guitar. And every day, he still kept spreading the positivity around by giving out the cards to many passer-by’s. He equally got many more in return.
One day, as he got ready for his duty, his cell phone pinged. He had received an e mail message from some user. The person had also mentioned his cell-phone number in it, asking Marcus to get in touch with him.
That evening, Marcus called the person.
“Hi sir, my name is Julius. I am a Youtuber, a drummer and I keep uploading videos of myself playing drums on YouTube. Recently, I came across your video where I saw you playing guitar and singing some songs. I just loved the way you play the strings. Should I join you in your songs? I’ll assist you by playing drums while you sing for your daughter. I won’t charge you anything. I’m just doing this because I loved your idea and I honestly love music just the way you do.”
At first, Marcus hesitated, but after discussing with Alura, he finally agreed.
That night, Marcus sang “Good Riddance” by Greenday and Julius supported him by playing drums on his tunes.
“Amazing, brother…!” Marcus appreciated him online, “Just loved the way you play…!”
This then became their daily schedule. Every night, after finishing his duties, Marcus pinged Julius and both of them sang online together on video calls.
Their videos started getting more and more likes, eventually adding to their popularity. Soon, both of them started their own channel on YouTube, and within just 24 hours, more than lakhs of users subscribed to their channel.
Some days later, Julius got two of his friends who played Violin and Keyboard respectively.
The four of them then started playing regularly. Everyday, using an online app, the four of them connected together and sang 2-3 most popular songs by renowned artists and pop singers.
They named their group “Band of Hope.”
Soon, this band started gaining more and more popularity, nationally as well as internationally. Many popular celebrities started admiring their work. Their band started getting featured on major news channels. Everyday Marcus still continued his work of giving out the positive message. His department, including his seniors and superiors, who had criticised his work earlier, started giving more and more rewards and appreciations to him. Marcus and The Band of Hope became popular in the city for all the feel good and inspirational songs that they kept playing for all the people. They kept spreading Hope and Joy through their songs. In the Lockdown, many users acknowledged their efforts and many of them started the same campaign of sending the card message to everyone in their own cities across the globe.
Every night, Marcus got many emails displaying videos of many youngsters from across the world sharing the card messages. Many people across the major cities of the world started using his way of spreading positivity and hope amongst each other.
A few days later, one of the popular NEWS channels called him for an LIVE online interview. He was then questioned as to what inspired him to start this worldwide movement.
“Its always a matter of choice. My mom one day told me that everyone in this world has a choice to make: whether to light a candle or curse the darkness. We all know that the whole world is going through a tough time. All the major transport services, the airlines, the metros all are closed.
Everything is on a standstill. The usual hustle-bustle, the traffic lights, the car honks, the crowds, our city is missing all of it. The infection is spreading fast. Scientists across the world may take some time to find a suitable vaccine to tackle this virus. But even in this negative situation, we always have a choice to look at the positive side of everything. Let’s try and spread a ray of light in this darkness. Let’s try and bring a smile on all the sad faces. Let’s try and speak more about God, about spiritual things rather than speaking about the effects of the pandemic. Let us all pray that one day this all will end. And it will. And when it ends, all soccer and baseball matches will sell out, all the restaurants and malls will be crowded and people have to wait, we all will love our offices and jobs, trains and transports will be full, the stock markets will skyrocket once again and we all will hug and embrace each other. And that, my friends, will be one happy, pretty day…!”
All the people worldwide who were listening to this clapped their hands and cheered the confidence of Marcus.
The next day, as Marcus was getting ready, his mom got the cards and placed them in his pocket.
“You choose the right way son,” smiling, she said to him.
“You’ve always taught me that, mom..!” Marcus replied.
As he stepped out of the door, all the people gathered outside gave a huge round of applause to him. All the officers from his department were also present. They felicitated him with fresh Lily flowers of various colors.
Cindy and Alura saw his felicitation through LIVE video conferencing with tears of happiness in their eyes.