Just when the jokes and gags about 2020 being a ‘manhoos’ year began dying out, 2021 caught the world’s most populous democracy napping as the second wave of corona hit India with greater ferocity and vengeance than the first. In a little over a month, the country was brought to its knees and the dance of death reached a macabre crescendo by late April.
All of a sudden the deaths came too close to our own homes for comfort. Friends, relatives and people we knew well began to die and every ring of the telephone became a moment of cold sweat for each one of us. This was not the case in the first wave when the casualties were fewer and far between. The government or the authorities can justifiably be blamed for not preparing for this and the buck has to stop somewhere.
But there is a flip side to that argument- both in practical terms and in philosophical terms that I wish to say here. All those who gleefully blame the Modi government or any of the state governments for not doing enough on the vaccine front, the oxygen front, the hospital bed front or the Remdesivir front need to sit back in reflect. Did not many of us in January 2021 heave a sigh of relief after almost a year of lockdown where nations worldwide came to a standstill? Psychologically speaking, it is human nature to believe that the worst was over. Jobs had been lost, people had succumbed. Businesses had crashed, savings had dried up for many households and everyone was busy trying to get back to work somehow. If suppose you were busy reopening your little store, or moving out to apply for a new job or somehow trying to repair the damage done and I came with a snigger and predicted that something worse was coming next month and that your friends would die, probably you would too or that your business is over for good or that instead of looking for a job, go book a coffin how would you react?
Psychologically again, the first wave receded as the calendar year ended. So many of us who believe in luck or numerology and divine indications, were in a virtual comfort zone in thinking that 2020 was a bad omen and that 2021 was a year of new hope. It certainly looked that way in Jan-Feb. Therefore, no one, literally no one could predict what has happened except the worst of pessimists.
So today, if we blame the government for not being prepared we are saying “Why is this government optimistic? We need a government seeped in pessimism and seized by a siege mentality which should have begun stocking up on oxygen, remdesivir, increasing hospital beds and converting stadia to potential covid centres and been on red alert mode all along.”
In hindsight, we would have been DEAD right if we took that attitude and went about expressing it as the year turned. It is another matter that we would probably have perished at the hands of a nation of angry stressed people who would LIKE to believe that this was over before this wave hit. It would be of no consequence that we would have been right, we would probably not have been around to say “I told you so”.
The only theory that fits and sits on all this, is the age old theory of ‘Karma and phala’ as stated in our ancient sacred texts. Man has abused nature, misused its offerings and in greed and misplaced and erroneous ignorance, failed to realize that actions have reactions and sustained negative actions can come back as sustained negative retribution as we can now see.
Today, evil in the hearts of men have peaked to a point of no return. While we superficially see scientific and technological progress, what we don’t see is the drying up of the milk of human kindness deep within our hearts.
Human values as basic as hygiene has taken hit after hit along with others such as compassion, love for our fellowmen, regard and respect for our elders, observance of good, positive traditional values, honour and regard for the well being of others even at the cost of our own, and the desire to live a life of dignity and honesty.
As a nation, accumulation of wealth and lust for power and personal profit gained priority over all of the above and at some point, Mother nature, or God or whatever name you call it by, stepped in.
We all hope and pray that this time, it will actually end for good and we get breathing time to pick up the pieces and start over- all of us who may survive this that is. But again, I am done making predictions. Maybe this is about as bad as a Sunday school picnic compared to what is coming next.