Viruses surface to test our tenacity, resilience
INFORMATION OVERLOAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY, THE DRUMMER’S ANNOUNCEMENT WAS FINAL
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.