Thursday, June 24, 2021
Column

Coronavirus Cogitations:  Gormen tu amakhan laga Amma, Baba ase

Monalisa Changkija

There are many things still unknown about the novel Coronavirus ~ this, after all, is the first time the virus has struck humankind. Thankfully, epidemiologists, virologists and various other health and medical experts are on the job to learn about this virus so as to be able to find vaccines against it. While anti-malarial medicines and old vaccines for BCG, etc., are being studied to see if they could be used to fight COVID-19, these efforts would take time to arrive at incontrovertible conclusions so the bottom line is that we still don’t have a vaccine to fight this novel Coronavirus. And, as experts say, the best vaccine is to follow all precautionary and preventive guidelines to prevent infection and to prevent infecting others. So, just stay home, man, and stay safe. Also, DO NOT self-medicate yourself ~ Coronavirus or no Coronavirus.

You know, a few days ago there was some kind of opinion aired on television channels and elsewhere that India has a lower rate of infection and deaths compared to other countries. But as we can see, infection rates and numbers of deaths are increasing. The point is: it is too early to congratulate ourselves on our lower rates of infection and deaths. Inarguably, the nation-wise lockdown has gone a long way to keep our infection and death rates lower so far ~ but we don’t know what tomorrow holds. Moreover, we don’t know if we have reached the peak. So, there is no gainsaying that precautionary and preventive measures are still our only, and best, safeguards. Moreover, why should we compare ourselves with other countries ~ one infection is one too many, one death is one too many.

Till the time of writing this, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Nagaland are the only 3 states that have no reported case of infection. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have any in the days to come. So, following all precautionary and preventive measures cannot be over-emphasized. Yes, our food stock is depleting day by day. Yes, cash in hand is disappearing ~ and long queues at the ATM is dispiriting. In fact, our accounts are getting emptier by the day and unless we earn, we are facing gloomy prospects. Yes, we direly need fruits and vegetables, especially for children, the elderly and the ailing. Oh, there is so much we need but if we have just enough to survive, let’s hang in there for the next 6 days.

Will the lockdown be extended? Till the time of writing this, no one knows and one will know till the Central Government officially announces its decision. As a time-pass measure it is understandable that we discourse on the extension/non-extension of the lockdown but please be patient and keep the faith. I feel that the Government’s decision will be based on inputs from our health and medical experts, which will further be based on the country’s rate of infection and deaths and threat perceptions thereof ~ perhaps even based on the global scenario ~ in the next few days. This would mean that the Government’s decision is unlikely to be political since now is not the time for politics and the Government knows it only too well. Now, please stop asking me on the phone and on Whatsapp if the lockdown will be extended or not. Truth be told, the Government hasn’t informed me its decision or consulted me on the matter ~ nor has it asked me for my opinions.

That said let’s move on to other issues. There is much to be said about Assam’s Himanta Biswa Sarma, who clearly knows each minute detail of his state’s Coronavirus scenario and hasn’t hesitated to share every detail with the public through the media ~ ok, some he hasn’t ~ perhaps under the Official Secrets Act or for reasons best known to him and his Government. No doubt about the PR aspect of it all but his constant presence through the media is also very reassuring for the public. It is at times like these that the public needs reassurance, which is the job of the Government. Therefore, the daily personal press briefings of the American President (never mind what and how he says), the British, French, etc., Prime Ministers, Presidents and other senior members of Governments. This is exactly what is meant by: “Gormen tu amakhan laga Amma, Baba ase.”

Oh, did you hear this? From what I heard, apparently some Police personnel denied access to some grocery shop-owners, who had gone to buy stock at the wholesale market, at Dimapur, early in the mornings after the 5-day shutdown ended on April 6, 2020. I am told, because of traffic, for one. But the other reason is even better ~ on the grounds that their cars were too small! Reportedly, those with small vehicles were asked to come in Tata Sumos or Boleros ~ basically larger vehicles. This would have created more traffic woes ~ but who knows some Dimapur cops may have a penchant for traffic woes. Anyway, one or some of them related their plight to a Good Samaritan, who made a written complaint to the DGP, who obviously pulled up the Dimapur Police immediately because things are said to be quite sorted out now ~ at least as regards vehicle sizes. See, it is not as if anyone is against the Dimapur Police ~ of course not; in fact, we are all in support of them. But it is some of their kichira ways that riles us to no end. I mean, what does the size of the vehicle matter in the purchase of whatever in the wholesale market or any market? Shouldn’t it be obvious to the Police here that grocery shop-owners know the amount of their requirements hence have no problems with the size of their vehicles? In any case, there was nothing in the Deputy Commissioner and Police Commissioner’s orders regarding vehicle sizes allowed, or nor allowed, in the wholesale market area or anywhere. While in training, cops should be taught a whole big chapter on how to avoid Kichirami in their professional practices, especially pertaining to public-police relations. The size of vehicle kichirami of some Police suggests a very oblique form of classism ~ perhaps at a very subconscious level ~ nevertheless classism.

I could never understand Police at check-gates stopping the public and asking: “Kot pora ahise?” My usual reply is: “Ghor pora”. Then they ask: “Kot jabo?” My usual reply is: “Ghor jabo”. They then say: “Achha, jabi”. This happens not only in Nagaland but across the Northeast and I should know since I travel quite a bit to several places in this region by road. I have always wondered if they expected me or anyone to say: “Ami atiya bank ekta chur korikena ahise”, “Ami atiya manu ekta murder/rape/assault korikena ahise”, etc., or “Ami atiya bank ekta chur koribole jai-ase”, “Ami atiya manu ekta murder/rape/assault koribole jai-ase”, etc. No, seriously, for dumb females like me the ways of the cops are indeed mysterious.

Which reminds me ~ during the height of disturbed days in Nagaland, this woman was driving home alone after dark from Dimapur town. She lives in the suburbs. There was this un-hooded Gypsy full of men, who was following her ~ or so it seemed to her. Naturally, this spooked her. Now, they may or may not have been following her ~ she and we don’t know because she was smart enough to drive into the Police Complex, Chumukedima, and they drove off along the Highway. At the entrance of the Police Complex, she reported to the Guards about the Gypsy-full of men, who she suspected were following her. You know what the Guards did? They asked her: “Kun manu imaan buri ekta laga pichhe-pichhe berabo?” and laughed right at her face. While appreciating their pun, I rest my case.

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