...My Thoughts in the Time of Corona

Sunday, March 22, 2020


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As the novel coronavirus parades around the world, it presents the dystopian picture of Hollywood apocalyptic movies that have entertained us for years —  a distorted bunch of panic buyers raking faces of one another to claim the last loaf of bread on the shelf (or even a roll of toilet paper), speakers playing warning messages on deserted streets, men walking in biohazard suits taking temperatures at building entrances, emptied isles in the stores and the lurking fear in every pair of eyes that you catch behind those masked faces.

As the situation unfolds, it permeates our lifestyles – from the way we work, to the way we spend and purchase (and possibly hoard), to the supposedly ordinary things we have long taken for granted, such as being able to step out of our homes every morning and socializing fearlessly.

What our intensive daily routine entails today was inconceivable just a few weeks ago – washing hands, using hand sanitizers, opening the windows, sanitizing knobs and faucets, repeating washing and sanitizing hands…and the endless discussions on how and when it all started, the conspiracy theories, the recent stats, the speculations around when and how it is likely to end, and whatnot.

One day (let’s hope soon) when all this is a closed book and we turn to look back at this point in time, the sheer ubiquity of the situation will be its defining attribute. We will talk about this in the past tense - when the world ‘was’ brought to its knees by an organism invisible to the naked eye – we will all say. That will be the time when we’ll begin to enjoy the little things; things that we shirked because we thought, in our arrogance and ignorance, that they would continue to be.

Now, as every life in every country under the sun is on hold, our hearts are in our throats, suffocating with fears. The fear of a novel disease, the plague of our times! The fear of uncertainty about our future and the fear of how all this would change our world forever.

When this is all done and dusted, maybe we would have been changed forever – we will feel differently about a casual visit to our favourite café or beach; studying on campus with our classmates; enjoying a movie at the cinema; or watching sports at the stadium…When this is all behind us, maybe we will change the way we take things for granted. Maybe! ...will we?

As the world comes to a standstill, cities that were once full of life become an epitome of ghost-towns. The whole world now knows what it feels to lose freedom, as massive restrictions rule our lives – with lockdowns and border closures… If everything happens for a reason, what could be the reason behind this unforeseen global crisis?

There is one unlikely beneficiary of the pandemic – and that is the Earth. Our beloved planet that we have taken for granted for too long now. With all the restrictions put on our lives, levels of pollution have incredibly decreased. Does Mother Nature smile as we all cry for help? Have the tables turned?

We learn that human race is fragile, vulnerable to diseases and chaos.  The far-fetched ideas about the great world economy and our planet were a product of our misplaced beliefs. It takes one virus to rearrange our lives, immobilize those systems we perceived to have been set in stone and hinder social interactions that we have always taken for granted.

The conclusion to be drawn is that in a globalised world, our lives are so interconnected that the notion of viewing ourselves as non-integrated is false consciousness. This is a reminder that it has always been like this – we are like links of the chain in the grand scheme of universal events. Now as we self-isolate and enter quarantine – all earth dwellers – we realize we are tightly linked. It has taken a virus to teach us that. Maybe that is how humans learn, slowly and painfully.

We realize today by the threat of contagion, that each one of us is valuable – and ‘equally’ so – that we sink or swim together. 
Each individual. 
Every country. 
We are all in this together. 

Let's hope that when this settles down and life goes back to normal (...as we once knew), the lessons learned are not forgotten.

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7 comments

  1. we all humans changed alot to adapt to the changing globalised world but now our minds needs to understand social aspects of human lives.

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  2. I hope all of this craziness ends soon! But you are definitely right about adaptability

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  3. Chelsea Sauve - WandureMarch 23, 2020 at 9:08 PM

    Really insightful reflection. Your description of the eventual reflection on the ubiquity of it all is quite profound, and will certainly be one of the defining features of this epidemic!

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  4. A disease united all the mankind, without knowing the boundary, the origin, the caste, the religion or the colour. The whole world has come out as one to fight a common enemy.

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  5. I comfort myself with how temporary this virus is in the big picture, but hope we walk away with the sense of larger community overall.

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  6. Wow, so well written! I love this article!

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  7. I love your point about equality - brilliant

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Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Frankenstein
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Lolita
Under the Tuscan Sun


Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »