-By Ranjeev Joseph (LL.M. 2020)
COVID-19 – this term is something we would think of as being alien, say in 2018. Most don’t know its full-form, or rather don’t care to know, due to its uninvited rush over everyone’s life. This newly abbreviated term has caused the entire globe to reconsider a few of its decisions over almost everything in its predeceasing years. It made the whole globe, or at least the mainstream one, go into an unprecedented “lockdown” mode, which was something likened to be equivalent to being “house-arrested” say a few years or decades ago. This house-arrest made us not only pause our daily routine, so fondly known as the “rat race”, but rather made us come to one concerted standstill, kind of unnatural to the pace most people are supposed to be in the 21st Century “modern world”. Rats aren’t really happy we’ve stopped competing as some might expect.
Time was and still is considered to be the most valuable asset, as both the world’s rich as well as the world’s poor have exactly 24 hours every single day- not a minute less, not a second more. Lockdowns are something that “takes away freedom” in the general sense of the term (read: J&K after Art. 370 abrogation). However reluctantly we might have been in enduring this dreaded misery in the initial few weeks; we, as a country, decided to “fight corona” with our contributed efforts toward the community in the cause of reducing unnecessary movement outside our homes (something which still has not been proven to be the best method to curb the dreaded disease). The “original” lockdown was promised to be initially only of 25 days by our beloved prime minister. This number, however, eventually seemed irrelevant as and when the singularity of the painful punishment turned into multiple lockdowns due to constant “extensions”. The Centre decided that it should leave matters to the State Govts. in dealing with lockdowns and everything related to it, to avoid getting badmouthed because of its ramifications that although were initially restricted to freedom, slowly and gradually, extended to finances of each household, dangerously causing a freefall of the GDP, which already was in shambles due to the hastily-implemented demonetization and GST.
Jobs started being lost due to offices and factories being shut down in the name of “safety”. People neither care about others dying, nor them being infected, when their bank balance falls below the minimum required amount. Those still sustaining their jobs started working from homes and started suffering from mental breakdowns due to the blurred office hours’ timings. Bosses knew you were at home and expected you to work harder than usual to compensate for the losses caused due to unrelated factors. Slavery reached the place where peace of mind once existed. People were made to feel grateful that they still have managed to keep their coveted jobs and were made to sometimes do work outside their domain, outside their office hours. The pressure of completing household chores was something which already took a huge chunk of peace from most people’s minds due to unavailability/lack of permission to enter housing societies for maids- The W of WFH included the chores as an unwritten rule. Today felt like yesterday. Tomorrow was assumed to be just like today. Weekends stopped having that spark. Nobody had anything exciting to look forward to. The unnatural hope to be freed from this misery by checking for the last day of the current lockdown completely lost its meaning.
It’s the year which people will, probably, wouldn’t want to talk about when things hopefully get alright. Some say this is “the new reality”. Some say it was bioterrorism. Some say that until all of us get infected and that all of us make antibodies after having survived, things won’t really get back to normalcy- the normal which is the real normal and not some kind of a dystopian normal we are made to believe today.
Now, on a positive note, this lockdown period was not all that bad. People realized many things which were right before their eyes. They started prioritizing things that were all this while done in the wrong way according to them. Perpetually procrastinated thoughts were finally addressed. Most finally got the “me time” they genuinely craved for since Day 1 of being employed, or entering school, or being born. Most understood that their jobs were just operating a computing device and that they were a bunch of “intellectual laborers” for their respective organizations. Their jacked-up sense of self-pride had a thorough litmus test. We realized that our lives are so fragile that we could be breathing our last breath and not even know when that would be. Maybe tomorrow, maybe today, maybe now? A sense of humility and gratitude pervaded the length and breadth, or rather circumference of our beautiful World. We finally acknowledged that we are simply a grain of sand in this ocean of the Universe and that our irrelevance didn’t hurt our egos as they previously did. Most realized that they studied things they didn’t care about, to get a degree that means nothing to them, to get a job they absolutely hate, to earn money which are simply digits on their net banking screens, to impress people they don’t even know. Maturity finally set in for those who took the time to ponder upon things and look back at some unsolved puzzles. The dots finally seemed to be connecting. We realized as humanity that mother Earth is a Trust and that we are its Trustees, our children being its Beneficiaries, who would themselves turn into Trustees, and so on and so forth, by the time we fulfill our respective duties and leave for the heavens.