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Vol. XXIX No. 24, April 1-15, 2020

Going Viral

by Ranjitha Ashok

Well, Chief, it’s been a while, I know. What to do, as some people say. The whole world is reeling under the slings and arrows of unbelievably outrageous fortune and is completely preoccupied with taking arms… well, make those extremely well-scrubbed arms and hands against this particular sea of troubles.

Nature’s really gone and done it this time, Chief. It’s like having a Triple-XL-sized, well-muscled, extremely angry Headmistress standing over the globe, booming, “You had to learn the hard way, didn’t you?!” People are suffering, terrified…and being people, a whole bunch is being daft as well, causing law-enforcer-heads to throb with severe migraine. One distraught lawman went so far as to fold his hands in entreaty and literally beg people to please stay home.

These misguided souls who choose this moment to amble about, cluttering the roads for those on genuine errands? Rum-Tum-Tuggers – one and all! You remember this particular Jellicle Cat, Chief? He’s the guy who, ‘When you let him in, then he wants to be out’ and ‘…as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.’

You know, there’s something mythic about the way the world has been brought to its knees, and as in all myths, somewhere, deep inside, are massive lessons for those willing to listen, hear, see and learn. In the strangest of ways, this worst of times is also giving people a chance to bring out the best within – and it is happening, Chief. Neighbours who never spoke are now helping each other out. People are re-learning the art of real conversation, and are actually seeing each other, having known only turned-to-screen profiles for years. And while social media is well and flourishing, board games that had gathered dust for years having lost out to technology, are making an appearance again. Yesterday’s major issues are tossed aside, crumbling in the face of real concerns, while a gradual awareness of how much we took for granted rises to the surface. And yes, although the forced togetherness may lead to occasional meltdowns and explosions, most Lockdowners are rising above the eye-roll, the sharp retort or the Last Word, knowing that this time, they must play the peace card.

Hard times, and the city is coping as best it can. Hopefully, there’ll be a new tomorrow – a clean, healthy one. Meanwhile, stay strong, Chennai. Stay strong, India and the whole world. We will beat this.

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