“Mamma, listen. Do not panic but start stocking up little by little,” I subtly warned my mother over the phone, somewhere in the mid-February, when the world was going bonkers over Brexit, America’s Israel-Palestine Policy, and some Chinese virus that made Apple shut its production in China. My father chuckled in the background.
Given my liking for dystopian literature and movies, I could see where this was going, not to mention what I secretly hoped for. Back in the days when I watched post-apocalyptic films like Delicatessen, Melancholia, Snowpiercer or When the wind blows, a possibility of even remotely witnessing such a catastrophe seemed negligible; yet oddly exciting.
My belief further solidified with the first case of Coronavirus in Bangalore. Many were happy that we would be having slightly more exciting stories to do, but all my excitement was around the certainty that we would not have dailies at all. Thanks to the game ‘Plague Inc.’ for enabling this foresight, I was only short of building my private bunker. I had stocked up way in advance.
One day a piece of news read, “Iran is building mass-graves.” This escalated quickly. In the aforementioned game, this meant it has really hit the roof—a point of no return for the country in question. The very next day our institute let us—day scholars stay off the campus for a week and work from home. I couldn’t be happier. It was for an indefinite period, I was certain.
My early-morning-dank-meme-surfing switched to checking new coronavirus related cases and deaths. But all the excitement about finally being able to live a hikikomori life with zero social interaction and a lot of me-time to spoil myself with books and films died as the eateries near my house I so heavily depended on closed down. Soon the 21-day lock-down was announced. Unable to cook I had already starved myself in the first week, hoping to be able to leave the next week for Goa, my home.
Suddenly my anti-natalist whims of living the pandemic got a face. A face of hunger. I could empathize with the poor shown in the news who went to bed hungry due to the lockdown. Buying fruits was risky due to the cholera outbreak. Bird flu kept poultry items off the shelf too. Bangalore was also experiencing a swine flu outbreak. To top that my awesome culinary skills lead me to even eat raw dough under the garb of rotis.
Day 17 of the lockdown: I have learnt to cook well. The lockdown has been a demonstration of the kind of life I wanted to live and I am loving it. The biggest take-away: My apathy for those suffering during the pandemic has changed by a certain degree. My understanding of the coronavirus pandemic being a manifestation of misanthropy towards the anthropocentric humans is flawed. Even if true, the cost that the poor bear for it is much larger than the real menace makers is what I realize. I have stopped justifying the nature or the people. Now I just feed the hungry neighbourhood dogs that I avoided feeding, fearing they’d smear me with cuddles and wait in vain.