Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91

Vol. XXXI No. 17, December 16-31, 2021

Short ‘N’ Snappy

– (Wo)MMM

– (Wo)MMM

Booster: A dose of cheer and hope

The Woman from Madras Musings recently read an article which said that experts are recommending covid booster shots for those over forty years of age. This was in the offing, of course – speculation about booster shots was rife even when the vaccines were first rolled out. Now that the golden hour for a booster shot looms large, (Wo)MMM can’t help but think back to the experience of taking the Eternals to their vaccine appointment the first time around.

The Eternals – the pater, notably – were quite excited when the covid vaccinations were made available. Rather justifiably, they felt that they were seeing a historic moment marking the triumph of modern science; so the process of being among the first to receive the jabs was thought to be a great adventure. (Wo)MMM accompanied the pair to the nearest health centre for their tryst with history. Though it was quite early in the morning, (Wo)MMM discovered that more than a few elders of the locality had already gathered even at that hour. They were as excited as the Eternals to be receiving the vaccine – the display screen of smartphones had the necessary app open, showing their respective appointments; ID cards and copies were brought neatly in files; wallets were kept ready at hand to pay the fee at a moment’s notice. The vaccine takers were to register themselves and then move to a neighbouring room where the jabs would be given. When (Wo)MMM arrived, the staff were just starting to set up shop and were getting their laptops and papers in place. The pater, ever the friendly one, collared the hapless youth nearest to him and struck what turned out to be a long, detailed conversation. The poor bewildered gent buckled under his avuncular interrogation; judging quite correctly that this well-intentioned line of questioning would lead to awkwardness if left to continue, he conspiratorily whispered to the pater that he would make sure he was among the first to receive the vaccine. This, of course, was all it took for the Eternal to beam with delight and leave him to his work so the process could get underway. And not a moment too soon – others in the audience were turning to speak to the young attendants nearest to them when the pater came back to his seat, signalling that any window for banter was now closed.

Patience ruled for a short while after that as registrations were dutifully filed at the administrative desk. Alas, it was much too short. For the pater waited precisely until the moment when everybody in the room had registered and then voiced a question on his mind, face shining with innocence – Why, he wondered aloud, must people wait at the registration desk after completing the process of registering? Why not shift to the adjoining room where everyone could take the vaccine in turn? The question fell like a lit firecracker that had unexpectedly been chucked inside the room. The audience had just started to resign themselves to a period of waiting when the pater offered the suggestion; now these august elders decided that this was the most sensible course of action given that it afforded them some opportunity for movement and a change of scene. Besides, what harm could possibly come of waiting in the neighbouring room rather than this one? Until this moment, (Wo)MMM had come across mutinies only in books and movies. This was the first time she was seeing one spread in real life, fomented rather alarmingly by the pater himself. The mater and (Wo)MMM tugged ineffectually at the pater’s sleeves, but the sudden rise to leadership had taken a hold of him; he was basking in the warm congratulations of his peers who loudly pledged their agreement and exhorted the administrators to consider the suggestion. (Wo)MMM felt quite deeply for the young team of administrators at the helm; the last thing they would have expected that morning was a revolt by a roomful of senior citizens – an affair that is markedly more terrifying than it sounds. In the end, the request was acceded to, there being no satisfactory explanation for why it was not possible. The elders triumphantly rose and made their way to the next room.

One of the elders in question was accompanied by his daughter, a twelfth standard student. She gravitated towards (Wo)MMM as the closest in the room to her age. Do you think, she asked (Wo)MMM, that they will all start fighting to sit in the first row? A good laugh was had before following the crowd to the next room where it was discovered that a few were indeed running as fast as they could towards the seats in the first row. “It must be in alphabetical order,” was exclaiming one gentleman. “My name starts with two As which means I’m likely to be among the first and so I must sit in the front row!” The student ran towards a seat in the last few rows where she doubled over with silent laughter. (Wo)MMM and the Eternals took a seat in the row behind her; the student’s father took a seat next to her. There was nothing to do but wait once more but this time around, friendships had been struck and people were chatting away with one another, making the wait easier. There was, (Wo)MMM remembers, a brief moment of concern where one of the elders stood up to give an earnest speech about what he felt was inefficient planning of the vaccine roll out, provoking spirited retorts from dissenters who had grown rather fond of the administrative team by then. Thankfully, a woman (Wo)MMM thought was the doctor in charge whisked the speaker away to give him the shot, averting a second bout of public unrest. The conversation then turned to a subject that (Wo)MMM didn’t know was a debatable one – should one rub the area of injection or not? A variety of opinions were aired on the matter, wider than (Wo)MMM thought possible. The argument was harmless though and time was quite easily whiled away until the Eternals too, received their vaccines. They emerged from behind the curtains with wide smiles as they pressed the cotton buds to their arms. After a bit of waiting, it was deemed alright for everyone to leave and newfound friends wished each other all the best as they parted.

The student too warmly bid (Wo)MMM goodbye as she left with her father. We are probably the first generation to take our parents to get vaccinations, she said with a twinkle in her eye. (Wo)MMM didn’t see her when it was time for the Eternals’ second dose, a rather uneventful affair. She hopes that she will run into her again when it is time for the booster dose. Maybe the experience will be as entertaining as the first one.

Water woes

The Woman from Madras Musings hopes that all our readers braved the rains and floods as well as possible. The street that (Wo)MMM was on fared reasonably well though neighbouring localities found themselves under water. One of (Wo)MMM’s neighbours had a rather hard time of it. Having learned a hard lesson from the 2015 floods, the gentleman had expended money and effort in raising the level of the ground floor in his building. The idea was largely successful in that rainwater did not flood the grounds; alas, the sewage lines in the bathrooms turned traitors and the rooms ended up getting inundated anyway.

(Wo)MMM also discovered that the washing – unmentionables included – took aeons to dry in the unnaturally damp weather. Who would have thought that such a problem could ever crop up in Chennai?

(Wo)MMM wonders if this is something we’re all going to have to deal with more frequently going forward. She hopes not though all signs point to the unpleasant truth that it most probably will.

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