An old colleague texted me this morning' "It is almost like a surreal time."
It is, actually. As if one of those aliens have invaded the earth from the heavens and slowly and surreptitiously moving around the cities, street by street, alley by alley, searching out the surviving human beings.
And the heroes of the movie are escaping. They are the only ones yoked with the task of killing the aliens and save humanity. From one alley, they peek around the corners and then quickly move to the next. Back in the underground headquarters, the commanders are sitting with tensed faces, a map of the world laid over the table.
None of their plans are working to kill the aliens.
We are witnessing the same sci-fi thing now with coronavirus. Roads are eerily empty. Hospitals are refusing to take in patients. Some people are under lockdown. Even in Dhaka, which is not under any official lockdown yet, I know people going for self-lockdown.
Sayam is a young chap with wanderlust, always loving to go around the globe, looking for new species of birds. He has holed up and never came out in the last one week. He has stocked up enough rice, lentils and potatoes to last another three months, as he says.
Every morning, he gets up and spends hours on the net, looking for the latest invasion of the virus.
Last night I went to a foreign club in Dhaka. Fridays are normally full house. But this Friday it was almost empty. Only a few people sitting on the barstools, their eyes fixed on the big CNN screen which was showing New York City under lockdown. New York needs more ventilators and hospital beds.
Nobody is touching anybody. Not even elbow shake. Every few minutes people are squeezing hand sanitizers on their palms and rubbing all over luxuriously. They don't even have to touch the dispenser because the club has set up an automatic dispenser – all you have to do is to put your hand under it and the liquid will automatically shoot on your palm.
But no matter how much you take care, you can never be sure if you are contacting the disease. You had just pushed the lift button, or flushed the toilet, or picked a pen, or accepted tea from someone, and you can get it.
My messenger inbox is filling up with coronavirus rubbish. How to save yourself with herbal concoctions or religious incantations. How does it spread.
Coughing is a natural body response. You will cough no matter what your health condition is. You will cough because something, some irritant might get inside your air tube. Maybe there is some mucus in your lung which you would need to cough out.
But the other day, I saw this woman coughing in the gym and we all immediately shot out of the room. Our gym routine was over for the day.
And patients with any symptoms of cough are being turned away from hospitals.
Before we sit on a chair we suspiciously look at it as if we can see the viruses crawling around, which they are in all probability.
And every now and then, people are calling to ask if I have stocked up enough. When I say I have not, they think I am a fool who is destined to die in the pandemic.
And last night at the club, somebody suddenly broke the silence.
"Let's take a selfie. We don't know if some of us might be in the grave in the next one week or so. Just a memory," he said and brought out his mobile and took a snap.
We are now all frozen in his mobile memory. Maybe some of us will remain there in digitized form, but not in real life, in flesh and blood.
Life, after all, is really surreal today.