Viruses sur­face to test our tenac­ity, re­silience

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NEWS - Dr Ra­jiv Sharma ra­ n The writer is an Am­rit­sar-based free­lance con­trib­u­tor



The gar­gan­tuan economies of the world have been brought down to their knees by a micro­organ­ism. The whole world has been taken hostage by a virus, in­vis­i­ble to the naked eye. Pub­lic places bear a des­o­late look, schools are shut, tem­ples have closed their doors for devo­tees and the Sen­sex is hav­ing a free fall just be­cause of a virus.

Man, who has scaled the high­est of peaks, man­aged to sur­vive the freez­ing cold of Antarc­tica, stepped on the sur­face of the moon and mas­tered the art of trans­plant­ing or­gans, is feel­ing help­less in front of the ever mu­tat­ing and ever de­ceiv­ing viruses that keep resur­fac­ing time and again to test the tenac­ity and re­silience of hu­man be­ings.

The his­tory of the virus is as old as mankind. Dur­ing my child­hood, I was wit­ness to the in­tense fury un­leashed by the small­pox virus all over the world. It wasn’t un­til the early ’70s that a vac­cine against the virus was dis­cov­ered. I still re­mem­ber those days when bills, declar­ing a re­ward of Rs 100 for pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion of a small­pox pa­tient, were pasted on walls and poles in towns.

An­other pop­u­lar way to cau­tion peo­ple of the virus was the ‘mu­nadi’ (an­nounce­ment by a drum­mer). He would choose a crowded place to fer­vently beat the drum and an­nounce the ways and means to avoid the virus. Un­like the in­for­ma­tion over­load on so­cial me­dia to­day, the drum­mer’s an­nounce­ment was full and fi­nal. No ar­gu­ments, no dis­cus­sions and no anal­y­sis.

An­other dan­ger­ous virus of the last cen­tury led to the bat­tle against po­lio that has al­most been won by the col­lec­tive ef­forts of doc­tors, suc­ces­sive govern­ments and the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The turn of the cen­tury saw the emer­gence of the lethal SARS and MERS viruses. Barely had we learnt to tackle them that coro­n­avirus ar­rived to halt the ever-speed­ing wheel of hu­man progress and prow­ess. Cars, buses, trains, aero­planes and fac­to­ries, show­cas­ing hu­man in­tel­li­gence and dili­gence sud­denly came to a halt. With man and ma­chine de­cid­ing to take a break for the time be­ing, we are left with no op­tion but to pause, pon­der, re­flect and med­i­tate over the value of hu­man ex­is­tence.

Wak­ing up to the chirrup of winged vis­i­tors, ap­pre­ci­at­ing flow­ers in bloom, watch­ing but­ter­flies and in­hal­ing the heady aroma of the early morn­ing spring air while sit­ting in my oth­er­wise ne­glected lit­tle lawn has now be­come the most in­vig­o­rat­ing and pleas­ing part of my daily rou­tine.

When so­cial dis­tanc­ing, iso­la­tion and quar­an­tine are the buzz­words, why not make the most of it? As they say in Italy, “Dolce far niente -- pleas­ant idle­ness”. So, let’s en­joy the sweet­ness of do­ing noth­ing within the safe con­fines of our homes. This would be the big­gest ser­vice to the na­tion dur­ing the present cri­sis.

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