Saturday, December 5, 2020
Column

Coronavirus Cogitations: Government laga kotha manibi

Monalisa Changkija

Ok, so that’s that. Dimapur will be under total shutdown for 66 hours starting from 6 a.m. of April 1, the DC has informed today (March 31, 2020). The state Government obviously has very good reasons for this measure ~ and methinks we are one of the reasons. This news is frustrating and the 3-day total shutdown will be even more frustrating but in the light of the Nizamuddin (Delhi) gathering, which several people from some Northeastern states, including ours, are confirmed to have attended and in the light of several attendees of this gathering reportedly having tested positive for the Coronavirus and reportedly even died of COVID-19, this 3-day shutdown at Dimapur would very well be a blessing ~ which hopefully we will realize and appreciate only with the passage of time.

Personally, I am not really for this shutdown at Dimapur because it would create major problems for a lot of people, who cannot afford to stock food and other essential commodities even for the next meal. Besides, I dread to think of Dimapur after the end of this shutdown. It is possible that what happened on Monday (March 30, 2020) would look like a small family picnic after the total shutdown is over on April 3 midnight. But do I really have a reason to worry when the Government surely has taken this decision after much cogitation and have taken into account all the pros and cons of the issue and the situation here? Perhaps not ~ because I am taking it for granted that the Government is well-prepared for whatever happens ~ the good, the bad and the ugly ~ after this shutdown is over.

Moreover, Government laga kotha manibo lage, especially at this very unprecedented time when the virus is said to be at a very crucial stage and our public health is at an even graver risk. So, come hell or high water, please Government laga kotha mani kene thakibe and stay home chup-chap. If we can ride over these 3 days, we can breathe easy even when the lockdown continues till April 14. And, who knows the lockdown could be extended, if the situation warrants. But let’s take one day at a time and see what happens next. Often, hard times and adversities open doors to good times and blessings.

Despite all the preparations the Government makes for smooth flow of life after the 3-day shut-down is over, there will be hitches and glitches, there will be anomalies, but it would be foolish of Dimapurians to go berserk because of human shortcoming and errors ~ perhaps even sheer negligence. But at a time like this, what we need to do is to draw our inner strength to be patient, tolerant, understanding, giving and forgiving. At a time like this, we must ensure that the most vulnerable sections of society are the first ones in the queue ~ in the grocery shop, at the vegetable vendor, the pharmacy, etc. And, please one person per family ought to be enough to do the kitchen shopping. Don’t hoard ~ if we share, everyone gets their share.

All of us know only too well that racism is also very alive and kicking in our hearts, minds, thoughts, words and action. So, while this Nizamuddin gathering was of a particular community, let’s ensure that none from this community in Nagaland are victimized in any way. Victimizing anyone from this community would negate all our condemnation of racism against our people in Indian cities and lay bare our hypocrisy. Besides, victimizing anyone from this community here would denote our ungratefulness to this community for all the Good Samaritan works it has been doing by proving food to the needy, especially since the start of the lockdown on March 25. Just think about it ~ we claim that this land belongs to us but we failed to provide food and shelter to the needy, to our guests, visitors and those who had the misfortunate to get stuck in our land due to the lockdown.

Having kept quiet for one week of the lockdown, it’s now actually quite absurd of some Dimapur-based organizations to grab some kind of lime light and attempt to situate themselves centre-stage. Perhaps, with the best of intentions and indubitably everyone has been helping the needy in individual capacities but as collectives, sometimes a little late proves to be too late. Moreover, this isn’t the time to assert power and reiterate domination. But to cover lost ground is always a welcome move and it is only after the 3-day shutdown we will see things clearer ~ especially in terms of more organizations providing food and shelter to the needy. And yes, when our Government is trying its best and going all out to secure public health, it isn’t a good idea to try and usurp governmental powers, obligations and responsibilities.

But then if the Government allows such things to happen, too bad for the Government. And here may I quote American theologian and author James Freeman Clarke, who observed: “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.” Somebody wrote recently “The pandemic and the economic downturn that accompanies it offer a creative opportunity for politicians to become statesmen and quotes poet Muhammad Iqbal: “Nations are born in the hearts of poets – they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.””

There is such a vast onslaught of news, information, notices, advisories, instructions and directives from the Government and district civil and police administrations that anyone can be bewildered. So, we will try to make sense of things by and by and if we can’t or don’t, forgive us. Yes, the Government, district civil and police administrations, NGOs, and all kinds of groups will be criticized and lauded as and when deserved. It won’t be the end of the world. Besides, criticism is good ~ it all depends whether one knows how to make lemonade when given lemons. And, I have never understood the noise made about positive and negative criticism. If one cannot handle criticism, it only denotes one’s immaturity ~ too bad. Of course, there are those who will assert that it is not what one says but how one says it. For me, the text, context and the sub-text of the criticism is more important than the syntax. Also for me, if one is puerile, over-sensitive and wants to be treated like a Porcelain cup and hasn’t learnt to develop a thick-skin, too bad, especially if one is in public service and the public space.

Anyway, there is no getting away from the fact that the world, as we know it, will never be the same ~ and we too will be compelled to change, as we were compelled to change from our foreparents day, to what we are now due to the forces of history. It may serve us well to grow up ~ and fast ~ to enable us to adopt and adapt to changes that are inevitable.  Right now, before us stands a total 3-day shutdown, which means we are stuck in our homes and shelters for many, many hours. This isn’t what we would have wished for ourselves but this is most likely what we have brought upon ourselves. So, now we have a lot of time to do physically, mentally and psychologically to prepare ourselves to face what would come in the weeks, months and years before us ~ if we survive the novel Coronavirus pandemic. And, survive we must. Therefore, Government laga kotha manibi ~ and hone your survival instincts. We are going to need that as never before.

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