The out break of Covid-19 had left the widower Subodh babu totally flabbergasted.
What sort of things were going around.Mask in mouth and frequently washing of hands,not touching things , o my God, how could one lead a life this way ?
It’s been two years he had lost his beloved wife Subhadra,his life breath and constant companion.He had been shattered by the sudden and unnatural death of her. A fall inside the bath room, and she succumbed. Adding to that misfortune the dreaded corona had arrived.
His two children,one son and a daughter were both settled abroad with their families.They had come for the funeral.After the rites were over ,they stayed almost one month with him .The son wanted to take him to Germany with him, but he didnt agree.Choked with emotion he said,”How come I go with you Shubham?Your mom still lives here.Should I leave her in a locked house.”
The son knew and understood how much his father loved his mother.
He had almost accepted the great loss by the loving support of his friends.The one hour morning walk and the two three hours spent in evening in the club had helped him a lot.
But the announcement of lock down on 24 March for 21 days by the PM,almost broke his heart.The novel disease and its extaordinary infection had stunned humans all over the globe.The PM said the only solution to control the spread of coronavirus was to break the cycle of transmission through social distancing.An unprecedented thing to be done.Man staying away from man.But how could he live alone.He realised his blunder of not going with his son.
The time was such that travels were banned .Either he could go, nor his children could come to him. Visits by friends and relatives had stopped.
The news on tv each day horrified him.The horrific condition in Italy disturbed him a lot.Thanatophobia gripped his mind.The lonely 68 years old Subodh babu always had an apprehension about the worst thing to happen.Suppose he died of covid,no one except the municipalty would do the cremation.This thought, the despaire made him loose 3 kgs in a span of 10 days.
The civic authorities had stopped the cooking and cleaning maids to go to work in homes. Every where ,the police kept watch. Poor Subodh babu, he had never entered the kitchen in his life. He had no idea how cooking was done.
His daughter and son arranged with the caretaker Gopal, who lived in the out house, to cook for their father.Each day they instructed on video call to Gopal ,how and what to do for father. The foody Subodh babu had to gulp whatever Gopal cooked for him.It was the worst cumpulsion he had to bear for Corona. He missed his wife more.
Gopal had been in the house for more than over 18 years.His work was gardening and cleaning the compound. He did all the outside work like marketing,paying the water and electricity bill. He never ever had thought of cooking for the choosy master some day.
Corona had created unimaginable things to happen during it’s reign.
To pass every single day was like handling a burden for the aged man. Nothing pleasant to hear and there was not a single reason to be happy about anything,problems and problems only. Each day he heard of someone’s death.The essential things were unavailable. Useful things were hard to get. Milk booths were closed. He hated black tea. But he had to control his anger,when Gopal handed over his cup of tea.He had to take it silently.
What would have happened to him without Gopal.If he was alive, it was only for Gopal. He was the only man with a mask put on, attending him 24/7.He remembered the day, when Subhadra told him about Gopal. Her friend had recommended this man who worked for her father. After her father’s demise, Gopal was looking forward for a good master to serve.How wise of his wife to choose such a sincere, simple,caring and honest man.
Each day both of his children were having video calls for hours. Those times were his distraction from the horrifice of the situation he was undergoing. His friends also were calling and talking him almost everyday. Rest of the time he sat before the TV. His children had advised him not to watch the news channels.
Each time his daughter would say
“papa watch good movies and spend your time reading books. Do yoga and meditation in the morning.Have your walk inside the house. Take kadha and vitamins”
“okay, I will obey you my mother,”,
Since the start of social distancing , the city had become silent.Roads were empty.No human and no vehicle passed, except the police van giving rounds. It was almost like a war situation. Humanity’s war against a virus.
Early morning while he did the pranayam in the verandah, he heard the chirping of the birds. How much he envied them in happiness . They seemed the happiest as no men were around to disturb them.He realised the helplessness of the most intelligent species on earth, hiding in fear of a virus inside houses.
Another incident which disturbed Subodh babu a lot, was the the plight of migrant labourers of the country . They were practically living in hunger in their work places after the lock down.The factories and mills, where they worked, were all closed. Their earnings stopped. Their only option at that time was to return to their own villages,which they had left long ago.
It was so pathetic to watch the visuals on TV screen, workers in thousands, walking on foot in the hot April sun, carrying their children on back. They had migrated to industrial cities to earn more.
Once,while he was talking with his son about this, the son could realise his father’s concern.
” Papa, don’t worry so much. As soon as the vaccine becomes successful,the disease will stop spreading.As you say, nothing is permanent in this world. So good times are sure to come. ”