In fact, I am not very sure about the title. To be very honest, I do not want to alleviate the anxiety of my countrymen who have been going through a tough time. Rather, I would like to share the experience of a citizen who is confused as well as panicked.
This morning (on March 22, 2020) I have called two of my journalist friends who work in prestigious dailies. The reason behind the phone calls was to know the authentic picture of Bangladesh regarding coronavirus (Covid-19). I could not rely on popular media which is quite opposite to what is being speculated regarding the spread of the deadly virus in Bangladesh. What I have come to know is that nobody is sure about anything. Everyone is trying to figure out the grim picture that might hit our lives hard.
I am worried; worried about my life; worried about our lives; worried about the whole nation. That is how coronavirus breaks our individualistic approach about lives and thereby making us think about the lives of others. This modern individualistic society suddenly has got shaken by the corona, and has been falling apart. The necessity of fellow feeling is going to be re-established again during corona and post-corona time. For the last few days, when we have seen the government being indifferent, sceptic and inactive regarding the whole corona situations, lots of private organisations, NGOs and philanthropists are working hand in hand with their limited resources to fight the upcoming battle.
People have already started to say that the world after corona will be dramatically different from the world that we are experiencing now. That is a very optimistic though – I guess. The way we have dreamt for a borderless world or globalisation in the last few decades will have to face lots of question marks. Perhaps, the answer to those questions would rebuild the future world.
These days, most of us remain glued to social media for corona updates. We have seen some people who believe in science and scientific data and upcoming catastrophe; on the other hand, some still believe that corona is nothing but a myth which is unreal or which can be dealt with by keeping faith in God. The gap between the two groups is too big to be bridged. Nobody dares to bridge this gap. I mean to say the root cause of this blind faith and superstition is nothing but the outcome of age-old madrasa education which has never been questioned and barely modernised. The result is evident in front of us. Are we going to see any change in this regard in the era of post corona?
In the midst of news and stories, some news has sparked hope. With major cities of the world on lockdown, the world has experienced less carbon emissions in the last couple of weeks. One headline is like "nature is reclaiming its space". The coexistence between human beings and nature has been interrupted for decades after decades. The world leaders have failed to reduce carbon emissions, failed to keep control over temperature on earth, failed to create a safe and green world for the next generations. In the last few days, I have been looking into the faces of these leaders and found them confused about the whole situation as they always dreamt of fighting a nuclear battle. Instead, now they have to face the tiny creatures like coronavirus; they seem to be very disappointed!
The time is so unpredictable that I do not know whether I would be able to see this article being published. This is a surreal time when an overcrowded city like Dhaka becomes quite by 8 pm. Some people are working from home; many of us are still going to the office. People are looking into each other with suspicion; becoming worried about jobs; worried about pandemic taking control over their plans and dreams. Those are rushing towards supermarkets, storing foods for months – they should be excused as their action is the outcome of their panicked minds.
The impact of corona in our lives is immense. It has already reshaped our social behaviour. Some lives got halted or some turned upside down. On a macro level, the world economy and politics are searching for a new formula to fight post-corona effects. On a micro level, maintaining personal hygiene has regained its importance.
Meanwhile, technology is playing a very important role in the whole scenario. Not only are we exposed to hardcore truths, but also we are surviving this time with the help of it. I cannot imagine what would happen if all the virtual platforms were unavailable. On the one hand, we are bound to maintain social distance, while on the other hand, we have to rebuild the sense of togetherness (virtually although) if we want to survive.
I have talked to some of my friends who are living in cities that are on lockdown. Those who are living with family seem to be more confident and optimistic in comparison to those who are living alone. Suddenly, many of them have got rid of their hard work, got some time to look into themselves and their little kids and got to see their lives with different perspectives. But one thing is common in all our lives despite our existences in different geographic locations – that is unpredictability.
Tanni Saha works as a banker.