Art n Life

CORONA MUSINGS : Life May Not Be The Same Again

Gunbir Singh | May 16, 2020 07:06 AM

Our life as we knew has gone through an upheaval. Job losses, business closures, education disruption, lack of friendly personal banter are all affecting the human psyche. Each one is fending off negativity through forced positive action to keep self and family smiling against this present oddity. Remediation of this situation gets questioned by the recurrence of highs and hotspots, faulty frontline peripherals and new viral strains in other nations. And yet we are preparing to press on the reset button and get back to live as we once were.

 As millions go on social welfare in developed economies, employees are being induced to retain wage flows elsewhere because of the dearth of state welfare infrastructures. The Indian industrial juggernaut is under deep distress, its working hands anxious, families of the daily wager bereft of the next meal and an exodus of the migrant worker.

Healthcare gaps are being identified and quick fixes the top priority. The body count continues to mount at places, while on other shores anxiety for the worst keeps people indoors. The economy is being made to wait as business aspirations stay smothered. Education is at a standstill. A common warmonger has all but paralysed the global village.

Change is evident. Every man who would prospect for a day’s employment on road crossings is remaking bicycle carts and hiring auto-rickshaws to earn by hawking the permitted supply chain items of rations and perishables. I saw a twosome roaming the street with a burner in hand offering to repair plastic items in vain, the cobblers call is unheeded, and the ironing man iron lies cold.

On being offered currency for future shoe polishing, the cobbler kissed the note since it was his first income in days. Society has drawn itself within, and engagement with the others is only on must do basis. Women are washing and ironing clothes themselves, shunning the helpful and the indispensable maid intrusions. Menfolk are helping with chores they would normally frown at. I suddenly discovered that I could do without the gardener, the wife is rediscovering her culinary skills more than making up for the lost eating out opportunities.

So, what is the societal churn expected? Will we bounce back to living the old life as soon as we are unlocked, or will the vocabulary of social engagement change permanently?

Some significant change is definitely here to stay. Parents will rethink sending children away to foreign shores. Educating them close by may become the want of communities. This will, in turn, see a rise in demands for better academic standard and holistic learning within the country. Prospecting for menial jobs on alien shores by jumping onto the overseas career bandwagon may decline. Only the fatalistic will venture towards western economies that have shown maximum impact and toll, which in turn shall put the squeeze on inflows to protect local jobs for their own. The whole business of education & work visas and the IELTS balloon is destined to go bust.

 Farmers have harvested with minimal migrant labour this year after decades of dependence. This has given them courage in a familial joint effort, and even community work pools that have saved them much money. This may be a roadmap for the future as outside help is found dispensable. The sale of the agricultural land base to fund exodus to Canada and elsewhere away may see a lull. The farm, after all, ensures food in times of dire need, and the profession has regained respect. Already the farmer who strode his horse-cart into town, saw himself being welcomed by colonies of citizens like never before. He even managed to eliminate the middlemen, and thus secured a decent remuneration for his produce.

There is a rich churn happening in the eating habits of people. The sensible used this opportunity to not stock processed foods of little or no nutritive value.

 Meditation, yoga, home callisthenics are the new buzzwords. Much of this activity is improving family bonds as generational gaps devolve into togetherness activity to keep the mind and the body energised and yet at peace. Giving space to each other is also a learning experience many of us are adopting. Its either that or sparks fly. Such behavioural change is likely to stick beyond the pandemic. So will the handwash habits and the face masking routine perhaps.

Every husband is now a handyman, plumbing, prepping up the coolers for summer 2020, gardening and even masquerading as tik-tok cooks. The good part is that adolescents are also participating in household chores. They would, of course, have done much more if the competition from the numerous screens was not so intense. Speaking of which every other soul is red-eyed due to net flick binging, mobile apps and competitive gaming, filling up the void of friendly real-time meetings. It is a tough new reality, and those with internal balance are adjusting to it.

For many, this disruption, and the anxiety of future uncertainty, even impending illness, has wrecked nerves. Mental traumas and panic attacks have upset equilibrium in some homes. For those that are affected by this acute negativity, it is familial understanding as also psychological support from doctors on phone and video consults that are becoming the norm. But the long-term panacea of faith, of adopting hobbies, of rediscovering joy in small things, of laughing and playing old board games with the family is the more therapeutic option. Many families have bonded with togetherness activity that is bring new joy.

 (The writer is an Amritsar-based leading entrepreneur and chairperson of the Dilbir Foundation)

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