On a silent Friday afternoon in the first week of March, CK went up the rooftop of his apartment building. As he loves plants a lot, he has built a rooftop garden out of drums and pots. From mango trees to passion fruit plants, he has them all. His prized collection includes a pink jackfruit plant, probably from Thailand. Walking among these plants makes him feel very happy.
But that day, CK was feeling restless with all this news on coronavirus. What is going to happen in a month? What if Dhaka is locked down? What will happen to my food supply? How can I keep me and my family safe from this virus?
CK had played those zombie games and watched some movies as well—where zombies take over civilization and you have to rely on hoarded food and rifles to kill the zombies.
CK would have been happier if it were zombies; he could have killed zombies without feeling guilty. But the enemies in real life today is invisible. It's a virus! You can't kill them with bats. Or even pesticides!
So CK instantly chalked out a plan: rice, potato, edible oil, meat, fish, spices, everything can be hoarded for six months. But we need fresh vegetables. How can we ensure fresh vegetables during a lockdown?
Looking at his rooftop garden CK began his internet research on how to grow vegetables on rooftop gardens in the most efficient way and soon enough he hit the jackpot: aquaponics.
What is aquaponics? A system that combines conventional aquaculture—like raising fish or prawns in tanks, with hydroponics—cultivating plants in water. CK watched a youtube video of a Bangladeshi scientist making a simple aquaponic system on the rooftop to grow vegetables and cultivate fish. All he needed was a drum cut in two pieces, some pipes, and a motor to circulate water, gravels and coconut skins.
With aquaponics, CK calculated that he could farm 150 fishes in one part of the drum and grow seasonal vegetables on the other part of the drum. That meant, during the upcoming apocalypse, he would have fresh supply of vegetable and proteins.
So he instantly called up some people to supply him with the contraptions and headed out for shopping.
He returned home with two tonnes (oh well, may be a little less) of rice, potato, spices, beef, chicken etc.
The next day he started buying 10 litres of hand sanitisers; 20 cartons of toilet papers; dettols, six months of family medicine and so on.
Panic buying had not begun back then.
But on the next day, his wife, panicked under his influence, called and said what about several poor families in the neighbourhood that often depend on them? The driver's family. The guard's family. That electrician. That handyman, and so and so. She had a list of 20 families who look upon them for support - in case of emergencies.
So he called up his network of grocery and essentials stores and ordered food and essential supplies for them. Then he sent a pickup van to bring them home - from where he would distribute these supplies.
By that time, people were in panic buying spree.
Seeing people in panic buying action, my hoarder friend's sense of hoarding got reinforced. So he again went on a buying spree. More hand sanitisers. More essentials. More toilet papers. Huge stock of masks, hand gloves. Soon the CK house—comprising of two apartment units—was stuffed with all kinds of goods and food. He has five refrigerators—including three double-door large ones. So hoarding perishable items was not a problem for him.
Then the prime minister announced the shutdown. While people were panic buying to the maximum, CK was cool. His only regret was that he could not finish his aquaponics project. Never mind.
On the first Friday of the shutdown, CK brought out his car to see the city and along the way drop by the superstores to pick up "one last thing".
He returned home with 23 kilos of beef. "You might not get beef tomorrow, you know," CK told me, "'cause I bought them all."
I asked my wife yesterday if I could have beef bhuna with parota. She went out to the superstores and returned empty-handed. The CK prophecy was true.
If you were wondering who started the fire—its none other than CK.