There are times when we are faced with a dilemma. A choice in which we have no say of ours. Such is this pandemic and the lockdown that was enforced on us for the greater good. Resultantly causing mass panic and widespread fear.
As we proceeded with the first month of living indoors, I observed the paranoia. People vehemently arguing and fighting for toilet papers, and sensible people shelving food inside their cellars. It was not their fault, but rather the result of an emergency that had befallen mankind. The unpreparedness visibly seen in classes who could not sense what was important and what was needed. I remember walking into a Tesco store in London right after, only to be greeted by hassling public snatching food from each other. Mind you, they were not the street hustlers but rather economically well to do people. I guess, the idea of a pandemic varies from developed countries to developing countries.
They still cannot be blamed. The world is struck by a covid-19 outbreak, and it is normal to fear what has not been faced before. A contagious virus with no immediate cure except for precautionary measures such as a vaccine. A few months inside the lockdown, and I could hear people hustling with mental health issues. A few in trauma, a few sounding depressed, while a few worrying everyone else around them because they are accustomed to the solidarity of thoughts. After all, the year 2020 resounded the end of the world for many, as if there was a glitch in the matrix.
One afternoon, when London (and for a fact half of the world) was in a full-blown lockdown I was out to purchase groceries. There was a shortage of food across the country, and people have had to stand in an hourly queue to get access to the supply. Since I am a vegetarian, I had no option but to purchase what little grass was left in the store. Even the cows and sheep were well off than a regular vegetarian wandering around in the pandemic hit city of London. As I stood in the socially distanced queue I noticed people worrying over their monthly supply, one complaining over the lack of toilet papers, another criticizing 5G for the spread of virus. Rumours and conspiracy theories could be found making their way to the most intellectual of minds, and no one was spared.
Suddenly, the lady standing in front of me turned around and burst into tears. The extent of her sobbing created a ripple effect and caused a few more people to shed a tear or two. Turning around she looked right into my eyes and in a typical South London accent said:
“This is a disgrace. Just because someone in China decided to eat a bat or pangolin, we are being forced to isolate and struggle for our necessities. Pardon me, I do not intend on being racist, but the situation is bollocks. I don’t have enough food or groceries to last a month. When was the last time you had to face this situation? Never! I tell you never.”
I politely looked into her eyes and nodded. She appeared to be a working woman. Smart, tall, and somewhere in her mid-thirties. It was a novel situation. She probably never had to struggle for basic necessities like many other people standing before me, except for the queuing in a Friday night pub or at a Latin salsa bar.
She continued: “You know mate, we would have been better off in a developing country. At least we would not be struggling for a silly toilet paper. Tell me, how do I be okay with this?”
I smirked and smiled at her statement, however, none of that was visible through the face mask except for a glint in the eye. Do I tell her that the place where I come from is a desert? Where every year we are forced to stand in queue for our daily supply of water? Our idea of a bath includes throwing ourselves in a bucket. Or do I inform her that our daily life in itself is a pandemic where we struggle even for a constant supply of electricity? A place where people are forced to walk barefoot at 46 degree Celsius to access clean drinking water? A country where people struggle for their daily livelihood let alone think about weekly requirements.
How could she be complaining about the absence of monthly necessities when she had access to 24 hours water, electricity, clean air, and a weekly supply? At a time, where billions of people worldwide did not have access to daily water, food, electricity, and clean air, how was she not okay with the luxury she had at her disposal?
To each their own. Maybe, every person is faced with their own issues. She too was being faced with a dilemma. The dilemma of a developed country being forced into a situation that a developing country has to live with every day. Where people like me were feeling like any other day, she had all the right to be dissatisfied. After all, it was not her fault. She was forced into a situation where she had no intention of participating.
I looked at her up, responding “I do not know much about the bat or the pangolin, but it is a situation unique to us all. These are trying times which we never volunteered for. So I guess, it is okay not to be okay with it!
… but such is the pandemic.“