Art n Life

CORONA MUSINGS : New Lessons, New Warnings

By ATAMJIT | May 09, 2020 05:16 PM

The appalling situation has made me realise that there is nothing filmy or dramatic that we confront in a cinema or a theatre hall; anything can happen anytime. Nobody could have imagined today’s situation. What we are actually experiencing, would easily have been dubbed as melodramatic and unreal if presented in a film or some other creative genre. Even now, who knows where it may lead us to?

It is also high time to revisit our ideas about religion and spirituality. I am convinced that religion and the saintly persons  are totally outdated and we will rather have to look up to to scientists and tech-experts to salvage the situation. The religion might work psychologically in one’s favour, especially if one is not strong enough to face the reality.

Of course, the service of the needy, irrespective of his/her identity, is the core of a strong religious-minded person. Despite we being a very small community world-over, I am a proud Sikh to see my co-religionists serving humanity selflessly virtually everywhere on the globe. It is a big honour to see people occupying highest seats praising the Sikh community for their selfless service.

But, unfortunately, at the same time, we have been through the most anti-religious incidents like the disrespect of dead body of a veteran Ragi when it was not allowed to be cremated in Amritsar. It is more disturbing to know that Bhai Khalsa didn't belong to a high caste. I wish all of us to be very religious in this social sense. Covid-19 is a strong inspiration to keep the spirituality very personal and make our sense of service really impersonal.

Covid-19 has provided us with an opportunity to look at this phenomenon collectively and democratically with equal sincerity towards one and all. But at the international level, we still seem to be victims of our egos. Controversies on the role of the US and China show that we are more focused on elections and the hegemony that we can establish through this crisis, than solving the real problems. If the so-called nationalism and the arrogance of some of the world leaders is not checked in time, we might start inching towards bigger clashes, just as it happened before the Great War of 1914.

We can’t think in terms of individualism now. It’s not enough that poorest of the poor gets two square meals and has a pitiable roof over his head that we could provide to the innumerable slum dwellers in big cities. If we are sensible enough to learn some lessons, Capitalism will have to reconsider its priorities; the pattern of distribution of profit will not be the same otherwise, we are not very far away from something like a civil war.

The pattern of migration is also going to change. From the journey towards globalization, we might start moving towards localization. Will the American dream survive this crisis? Will the poor rural folks of Bihar, Jharkhand and UP still like to work in cosmopolitans just for a pittance? Covid-19 has once again exploded the absurdities of our lives; there are youngsters dying on the way in an attempt to walk hundreds of miles back to their families and, conversely, there are others who are not ready to attend the funeral of their own mother because she was Corona infected. Such continuous happenings and the related images, unfortunately, are now part of my mental landscape and I cannot run away from these engravings throughout my life.

(The Mohali-based writer is a renowned playwright and winner of the Sahitya Akademi award and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award)

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