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Guarding against corona

Surely many must have become watchmen in the ongoing fearful times

I had never thought that there would be days when I would be a watchman with unending shifts. Staying with my 84-year-old grandmother, who lives alone at Butala village, not a long way from Amritsar, eventually made me one.

I picked this role out of necessity and not of choice. I landed to meet her just a day prior to the national lockdown and could not return. For the first three days, it was hard to digest seeing the usual visitors coming to meet her, despite several worrying news reports on COVID-19 and the village gurdwara’s announcements urging people to stay at home to contain the spread of the virus.

In shock, I couldn’t hold asking each of the visitors, mostly elderly women, why they were not taking precautions. In return, I got evasive answers, and my grandmother stood with them. Of course, this was not the right means in current times.

The maids too continued coming, though I told them how unsafe it was for us and them.

So, how could I have let this go on? Which is why, I pressed myself into action and took the gate in my hand ensuring no one enters. Thankfully, I got hold of the lock. And round the clock, I keep it locked.

Still some visitors continue to flow, but I stand at a distance and stop them, alerting them to possible threat of infection. Or I give false excuses such as my grandmother is sleeping when she is wide awake. But some women are clever too and try to gain entry by saying that they have come for the leftover butter milk or for returning utensils. But I don’t forget to show them the red flag which by now may have already made me unpopular. But why should I mind as long as I am able to ensure the needed precautions?

Sure, my grandmother too must be a bit unhappy. I may have taken up all chores of the maid, besides helping her in the kitchen. Still she may be yearning for me to leave, as I didn’t let her visit the neighbour next door.

In between, when I pepper her with several dos and dont’s, I can sense an irritation on her face but I instantly change the topic, mostly asking about her childhood memories, especially when she was the head girl in the village school.

One day, while we were having an intriguing chat, I sensed someone at the gate and I rushed out, but it was someone at the neighbour’s door and I returned proud at being such a faithful watchman.

Certainly, across the country, many must have become a watchman like me to guard themselves and their loved ones. They may be irksome, but if they are, its for safeguarding everyone around. And to all those, who are still not taking the precautions seriously, let us not forget that prevention is better than cure. By the way, this virus does not even have any cure. So, why throw precautions to the wind?

rameshinder.sandhu@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 1:00:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/guarding-against-corona/article31318319.ece

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