The other day, the Health Minister said, rather impetuously, it seemed, that the lockdown would be imposed again, in a week. The next day, the Revenue Minister said no, the government had no plan for a repeat lockdown. The day after, the Chief Minister said he most certainly would consider a lockdown if we didn't behave as we should. I read only so much news, so I do not know what the Minister of Animal Husbandry possibly said, and the Minister for Fisheries, and the Ministers for Minor and Major Irrigation — to name the few that come to mind. The statement of the suave Medical Education Minister would've been interesting, his is often the sage opinion on Covid.
All this points to unbridled free speech in the Chief Minister's cabinet — a healthy democratic exercise, maybe. Hearing them talk, workers are fleeing the city all over again, diminishing capacities on the shop floor. Seeing which, the Home Minister came forward and pronounced his take on the matter. "Don't leave the city," he said. "There's not going to be a lockdown."
That's surely not the last word on the subject. As regards the common folk, they are drawing their own conclusions.
It appears that it's not the stick, nor obedience to authority, that's working. Almost everybody on the street is wearing the mask, and the proper way, mouth and nose neatly covered, no cheating. Today is the fourth, fifth day that I've noticed this sudden turn, driven undoubtedly by the pounding by television on how far the virus has come. Death is at everybody's door, asking that it be opened a wee bit.
It's not merely that you could die. Rather, it is the fear how you'd go, and how you'd be sent off. The television (and mostly the social media) are showing the corona-infected taken away to makeshift centres with no hygiene, no proper bath and toilet, and, thereafter, the terrible, impersonal burials — gathered with the other dead and brought in a heap to mass graves, there to be heaved in without regard to what goes in first, the head or the foot.
I watched such a video on Facebook that didn't look fake. It made me remember The Plague, by Camus, which I read a few weeks ago. (Coincidental to reading Camus's book is news from China, of a possible breakout of bubonic plague.)
This epidemic might linger a lot longer than we've imagined. That's the belief now, among experts and among folks who were arguing that the virus wouldn't survive the summer, that it (with its cousins joining) may stay on for one, two, three more years.
What should I do if the pandemic doesn't end soon? Leave Bangalore?
I cannot go to the country. There wasn't a single reported case in the Malnad coffee zone when I was there last. This week, a seventy-year-old woman got caught in Sakleshpur and died. A young lady has contracted the disease at Bandihalli, a short distance from my home in Hydur. Our neighbours there are sending insistent messages. "There's a case reported just 2 kilometres back. Don't come!"
I'm not sure if their worry is that I'll catch Covid from them, or if I'll carry more of the virus to them.
So here I am, bracing to embrace Bangalore for long, taking care to keep the distance, meanwhile. Of course, you, dear reader, are in the exact same circumstance. So here's sending you all the cheer I can muster. (It's raining nice and hard here, as it should, and the world is glossy and green with an ebbing but rather full moon out, so not everything is going the wrong way.)
Having said that, I came across this piece on the Indian Lockdown in the Indian Express. I'd have tossed it aside if only the first lines hadn't rung so true. I'm reading on.