Coronavirus Chaos: We have taken things for Granted

Let’s face it; we have all been caught off-guard, including those in the medical fraternity. COVID-19 has left everybody, including the economy, in shambles. Stocks have crashed, businesses have gone bankrupt, and a large number of human lives are being lost every single day. With more than 300 confirmed cases coming to light thus far, India seems to be feeling the heat of the Coronavirus outbreak. 

Back in 2011, Contagion, a film directed by Steven Soderberg, predicted the deadly virus outbreak. Upon release, the film was met with rave reviews, but nobody would have ever thought that some of our worst nightmares would come to life approx nine years after the film’s theatrical release. 

Come 2020; a global health crisis has left the world reeling in tatters. Despite all of the chaos, the disease has made us learn a few valuable lessons:

Death Isn’t the worst of human fears, misery is

The fact is: we have all taken human life for granted, haven’t we? Ah, there’s no point denying it. The virus has made us realise that the human race isn’t invincible. In fact, ours is a race as brittle as glass, and all of us are prone to disease, death, and misery. Also, it goes without saying that all of our hard-earned money can vanish within minutes, all of it. Just look at the plight of the stock markets if you disagree. 

‘Normal’ life has been derailed

We seem to be learning that our planet, and the life forms it sustains, are fragile, and we’re learning it the hard way. A godforsaken virus is killing people in large numbers while forcing us to practice social distancing. Grocery stores are running dry as people have started with the panic-buying exercise. We can’t even go out in order to meet our friends and colleagues, and eating out is now a distant memory. So, to top it all, we have all been robbed of the bite-sized pleasures of life. 

In all fairness, many of us have this habit of taking things for granted, don’t we? Take this for an example: most of us waste a lot of food, don’t we? And now we are here, trying to keep our body and soul together in an era where food prices are skyrocketing because of panic buying.

Furthermore, many of the popular tourist attractions across the globe have turned into graveyards. Take the example of Italy, the European giant. The country, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, has turned into a ghost town. More than 4,000 have died in different parts of the country ever since the pandemic showed its ugly head. 

To make matters worse, the country reported 627 deaths on Friday (March 20, 2020). The sick and the elderly have been dying a slow and painful death, and cannot be visited by their relatives. A feeling of perpetual sorrow seems to have made inroads into the minds of people, but there’s something much worse than sorrow, i.e., helplessness. People have been dying in large numbers, and we have done nothing (because we can do nothing). Such is life, you see. 

In all fairness, death isn’t the worst of our fears, but it is the pain of dying in loneliness that makes our hearts grieve. Nearly 6000 have died across Europe, and a lot of them cannot be given a proper burial because of the fear of contagion.

Usually, we do not value people till the time they stay with us, but the moment they are gone, we tend to experience emptiness and sorrow, isn’t it true?

All of us are dying to get back to work, aren’t we? Well, it has been long since I travelled in a crowded metro. Once all of this is over ( pretty soon, I’d like to believe), I guess all of us will begin appreciating the beauty of everyday life. 

Fatal Mist…

Sit in a closed room, close your eyes and imagine this: Salman Khan pulling a pack of Marlboro cigarettes out of his pocket and smoking a few of them before going all guns blazing against the bad guys. After that, think of Ranbir Kapoor smoking a cigarette while reliving the fond memories he spent with his beloved.

Now, think of a man sitting in a dark room. He is too weak to move. Imagine him smoking a pipe and coughing continuously. After that, imagine him lying still on his death-bed, vomiting blood. He’s dying a slow and painful death because of lung cancer. Does that sound ‘cool’?

Every day after having lunch, I have this habit of taking a stroll right outside the office area. It happens to be a great way of keeping yourself up and running. The moment I step outside the office, at least 10-15 people can be seen gossiping and smoking cigarettes with filters lying scattered all over the place.

There’s a young lady I used to work with. Back in 2016, she was in her late 20’s. I must confess I haven’t seen a writer as good as her. One fine day, while attending a client call, I saw her carrying a lighter. She held it firmly in her right hand and was on her way to the smoking zone (just outside the office). The very sight of her making her way to the smoking zone made my heart sink in an ocean of gloom. That’s because I had a crush on her. XD

I followed her while she was making her way to the smoking area. She had one cigarette, which she was sharing with one of her female colleagues. She took a few puffs and passed it to her colleague. I stood there motionless as I saw them smoking and giggling.

I wish I could barge into the smoking area and snatch that cigarette from her. I wanted to tell her that smoke wasn’t the only thing that was being blown away by her. Quite frankly, I didn’t utter a word, but the sight of those giggling faces kept flying through my mind for the rest of the day. Take a minute and look around yourself. You’ll see a lot of people smoking around us. From colleagues to friends to strangers outside Metro Stations, the list is never-ending.

A lot of people hesitate to admit that they smoke. Questions about smoking are often swept under the carpet. Some people might even go on to bully you, saying: ‘Man, grow up’ and ‘You haven’t lived your life’. Now, would someone be kind enough to tell me how on earth is smoking associated with growing up?

Smoking kills nearly eight million people globally. (That’s a huge number). College goers and young working professionals are falling prey to this menace. Earlier, cigarettes were cheaper, and people could light a cigarette almost anywhere. Cigarette manufacturers used to sponsor charity events, discussions and seminars. However, in those days, access to information was pretty much limited, and people weren’t ‘aware’ of the health risks associated with excessive tobacco use.

Today, the cost of cigarettes has skyrocketed, and people can no longer smoke as openly as they once could. Smoking is banned in public places. Furthermore, a warning sign pops up whenever a person lights a cigarette on the big screen.

Why do people smoke?

A common ‘reason’ they give is: ‘Zindagi mein Bahot tanaav hai’ (My life’s stressed-out). I quickly follow it up with another question: Would it fade away after you’ve smoked? What follows my question is indomitable silence.

As individuals, all of us need to decide how we want to live our lives. People need to understand that the real face of smoking isn’t glamorous, and neither is it cool. The real face of smoking is covered with misery and disease. It is a disease that intensifies every time you light a cigarette.