By Col Prem Bahadur Thapa (Retd)
It’s often said that ‘desperate times demand desperate measures’…but it’s a serious subject and efforts at making light of tragic moments with ‘zest a while’ or ‘Let’s live a while ’ could be unethical when everyone is at their wits end to save their skin. Yet it does throw up some very unintended and unexpected situations…making the burden a bit comical for a few moments; and some smiles may not be minded. It is unbelievable that most tragic moments can often betray heavy moods, such as the (true incident) accidental fall of a priest headlong into the grave before the dead man in the coffin could enter.
Conjectures that Earth will be invaded by outside forces are often fantasised but that it will materialise from within was ignored and that is the long and short of this sordid drama. The toll it has taken is unbelievable and still counting after crossing more than the million mark…and there is nothing in the arsenal of medicine lockers to combat this virus as yet….except finding ways to distance it and hoping that if you keep it ten feet away, you are safe…(and Namaste has replaced handshakes when even Prince Charles had to hastily withdraw his hands and do a Pranam to the dismay of his guest).
So, it is getting difficult to digest the plethora of divergent advisory claims about a subject that has been literally dissected threadbare in every conceivable corner of world, to no other effect than creating more concern than comfort. More so, to the utter consternation of many hapless unfortunates facing nature’s wrath, some Jug Suraiya clones and App users have, in their wisdom, resorted to generating humour to lighten the mental burden, but not all of them deserve credit. (One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry when our cine stars are shining in their lockdown routines, right from the centre of the cauldron named Mumbai from where displaced migrant labourers in the hundreds took to the roads to walk it home. The visuals were enough to make one cry yet the most bizarre contraptions of transportation (named ‘Jugad’ in our country) looked more hilarious than any circus, and the flip side is, despite watching helplessly at a girl cycling her sick father to their distant home, we found a possible world class athlete for the next Olympics (whenever that be or may not be).
It is inching so much closer that some ‘dare-me’ types are actually thinking of escapes like Robinson Crusoe rather than depending on the never ending excruciating preventive lockdown blues, but how and where? ‘Far from the madding crowd’ (as actually suggested by a colleague) but is there such a place now? “Maybe,” so he says, “chances are that there are still such virgin lands…in those untouched mountain wilds that may serve the purpose just right! One could easily make a hut or erect an igloo-tent and stay away or hibernate till the calamity thaws! Hunt a bird or beast to satiate hunger and light a fire that the pines and dry wood provide to remain warm! Such destinations in the upper reaches of our Dev Bhoomi may still be found.” He also suggested some outrageous blasphemy like Noah’s Ark, (minus animals, plus kith and kin, out in the high seas)!!
But, while ridiculing such fairy tale thoughts that come to hapless idle minds, we have no choice but to ‘stand our ground and battle the devil’ as best we can. There are fair chances that you will slay the dragon…to yet live the remaining years in peace… and still walk the ‘Mussoorie Mall‘ in noble thoughts that ‘rejuvenated Mother Earth’ was our reward; because, either way…win or lose, a new world will arise and…do we see a design in this destruction? On a more somber note, ‘make peace with the Maker’ and you may feel better right away. (I am not strictly religious but trust me, this mantra works, though some may mistake it as ‘defeatist/pessimistic.) And on the brighter side… If New Zealand could get rid of this virus totally, others can do it too. Bravo.
But, to turn the tide in this uneven contest, we will have to find that ultimate ‘cure’ called ‘vaccine’, much sooner if sanity is to survive…or else, even confirmed optimists might be driven to apply some un-chivalrous vanishing tricks a la Harry Houdini as mentioned above. (But think a little deeply and Noah’s Ark was perhaps not fiction. A similar calamity in whichever form perhaps did occur in the distant past and we might be the descendants of that survival saga. Insane, but fleetingly heard by my colleague, of someone who (perhaps more in earnest than jest), has booked a seat in a cruise which has offered to sail away and remain at sea…for as long as it takes…and then return to land when it is all over. Sounds absolutely possible and they say why not? Keep refueling and re-storing from nearby ports and there you are…safe and content as the sea-gulls!
Yet again, recovering from such wickedly –wandering whims (because everyone is not as vigorously adventurous or heir to a million dollars), resolute preventive norms and patience will have to prevail till medics come up with that ultimate and eagerly awaited final ‘cure’ (and surely they will). But, then, again, some eminent minds and government heads like the PM of England have warned of the possibility of never finding that ‘vaccine’…and, instead, ‘new ways’ may have to be found to live with it; and one of that ways may have been indicated by the President of USA in taking those preventive doses of HCQ (though much against the advice of his own medical chief!) So, why couldn’t everybody else? Yet the ‘newest way’, though not so boldly suggested as yet by experts, that may ultimately come to stay, could be “Herd Immunity and God be with us then. (It is unconfirmed and yet possible that those labourers in hundreds and thousands who made that epic thousand plus miles journey on foot from Mumbai to UP and Bihar in droves had attained that magical immunity already, fashioned by their ‘herd’!)
Another ‘new way’ may be Remdesivir, though chances of escape are only 50:50…(and the price per vial has shot up from Rs 4,000 to 40,000). Some latest medical bulletins predict with absolute certainty that ‘their’ vaccines will be available by this year end, may be even a month or two earlier. That definitely sounds happy… yet there are others who are definite that it will take many more months. Either way it is yet so near and yet so far that it may be healthier to squeeze some laughter (yoga style) than to weep outright.
‘Tragedy of Errors’ and Remdesivir is not the only one carrying out a heist (from the helpless fearing death itself); and some much hyped self-styled Gurus and their cohorts were reported to have claimed… to have found the ultimate Aurvedic sure cure against corona and put up posters on its acclaimed authority. But tragically for them and equally (comically) for their innumerable faithful believers who were disappointed, ‘the wrongs were righted’, and all is well.. (chalta hai ) in Hindustan.
And could there be a greater tragedy during this colossal pandemic, which demands collective effort to combat it…than to see the ongoing fights and disastrous wrangling amongst nations, in utter disregard of the havoc caused by Corona? Their futile hostilities are such that it is almost foolishly comical, bordering on sheer madness; knowingly and yet not knowing; that their effort will only hasten Noah’s Ark.
Author Karyo’s book, titled ‘Life is a Tragic Comedy’ is perhaps what the foregoing is all about (and who are we to disturb when the Lord himself is afoot.) Amen.