Covid-19 has taken away ‘Social’ from ‘Social Animal’
Let us expand it as Social Distancing Hysteria that is prevailing all around the local SDH campus. I went there to collect the Corona Test Certificate for which I had filled the form a couple of days before. And that morning I had been asked to stand on an inverted cuboid in front of the medico’s window to feel elevated to the level where the blind folded medico’s iron hands, though in white rubber gloves, would appear through those iron bars to pestle my left nostril with the swab stick till my left eye welled to drop a drop of cold tear – the correct response to the cold blooded insertion.
After half a century a second person was dealing with such an irritating fluid but a hell of difference between a mother’s soft hands and the medico’s hard plastic needle. He withdrew commenting that I had cooperated his interrogative fiddling. Now I was on my way to positivity or negativity. And for that I was assigned a couple of restless days.
I arrived at the gate early because the early patient catches the doctor’s eye first. From the outermost iron gate to the innermost chamber of the BMO everyone clad in the same corona uniform. One cannot tell the subordinate from an officer. Who can say who is who. That is how corona has levelled the hierarchy reserving all the distinction for itself wearing a crown and ruling in an unknown kingdom. To him belongs the whole domain. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else. Kith and kin have dropped the conjunction. Everyone repulsive like poles and irritation looming large. At every step a gloved hand baring my way as if Alfred Noyes’s Highwayman was on its way to kiss the Bess.
Anyway I entered the chamber of the BMO. The BMO was a tall well built man. In his usual clothes, an amiable person who did not snap at people out of Corona fright. A bald headed masculine figure with a low cropped moustache fringing the glistening line of upper teeth. So keen and clever a doctor that does not only diagnose the physical ailments but looks looking into the patient’s soul and prescribes the medicine of sympathy and love. Of course an earnestly humanised mahatma whose eyes are gleaming with some undefined ineffable trust.
I asked him about my report. He directed me to the concerned section. Accordingly I reached the door of the room. The gatekeeper guarding the concerned clerk had a small stature and looked like a Lilliputian cross. As I struggled to enter he gathered together all his gases fumed at me exhausting the flickering flame of my optimism. I felt my invisible egotism wrestling with his inflated delegation. I entered the room.
The room was a 4 into 6 enclosure furnished with a 3 by 2.5 table on which was a lap top and some long size notebooks. A stocky quadragenarian sat on the chair with a mobile phone in his hand. He was so frightened to see me that his inner hay stack caught fire and he threw temper tantrums which both of us (me and the guard shared). The space had been lately enclosed to accommodate the medic.’ Why are you here?’ He asked me. ‘I have come for the corona test report of the sample I had handed in the other day.’ said I. He asked my name and whereabouts. I revealed myself. He told me that I did not figure in his list. “I had handed in my sample with the staff whose certificates have already been issued.” He fingered his mobile and asked me to come later.
I concluded that the person was so much corona conscious that he was not satisfied with 6 feet norm of SD. He was so scared of people that he wanted to be 16 feet away from other individuals – A Gulliver like aversion with humans. The room allotted to him was rather an undersized corona cabin where he could hardly stretch his capital limbs and relax. He was genuine in his grievance because he was the most distanced creature in the hospital, where I saw people huddled together in different rooms and patients floating here and there.
Our social setup tries to adjust the stiff idol of justice in a nut shell and adjustment to us means to cut justice to our own size that is how our wicker basket holds water.
Social Distancing is of course a curative measure to keep the covid at bay but we have created a hysteria out of it so that we can hide our averting nature and muting self in it. It is easier to distance away from people rather than hugging with stiffened bosom or bless with a stiff neck or shake hands with clenched fists. Why to waste time and ram in inventing lies to hide derision with praise. Why not distance away so that there is no chance of seeing eye to eye with.
People are no more good conductors of love and sympathy. They come close only to share the bad breath probably alive with corona. Hence it is the new norm to be equidistant from friends and foes and be sure that the gap is so wide that the longest arms thrown across, are unable to feel each other’s anatomy and ferry nothing but a headload of formalities.
- The author is a lecturer in Education Department.