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Unmasking complacency

Today a vegetable vendor came to my doorsteps. I quickly wore my mask and set out to buy vegetables from him. But he did not have his mask on, and let it dangle from his neck. I told him politely to put it on properly. With great reluctance, he pulled the mask till his mouth. I told him he still was not wearing it properly. Now he seemed to get irritated and told me, “This mask is not going to help us in any way, madam. I never wear one that too in this hot sun.”

Once again, I politely tried to tell him he was wrong and it is mandatory that he wear a mask. He gave me a sneering look and told me that if you are destined to get sick you will get sick anyway and this piece of cloth is not going to save you.

He went on to tell me philosophically that he has never harmed a soul in his life and is sure that he will be fine. I tried to tell him that he could be asymptomatic and by not wearing a mask, he could well be spreading it to others. With a tired look, he wore his mask properly and as he was leaving, he gave me a piece of advice, “Don’t be so chicken-hearted, madam.”

Holding my vegetable basket in my hand, like Robert Frost, I lamented, “If I could put a notion in his head...”

What actually makes us so complacent and lower our guard these days? In the case of that vegetable vendor, I can understand it is his lack of awareness. But even the so-called educated and elite lot are taking things easy these days. The attitude of people have changed in a year’s time. Is it because we have had enough and our patience has waned? Is it because the numbers are not alarming any more? Is it that our vaccination process has started and our fears have taken a back seat?

We with our enormous population can definitely not be complacent. As a race, we seem to have a fatalistic approach. This “what will be will be” approach is not going to help us in any way. A second wave of COVID-19 has already started. If we let our caution up in the air, the coming months are not going to be easy. Let us not be complacent, least of all in a pandemic.

Our children are out of school for almost a year now. Many primary school students are becoming complacent and have forgotten what school life is all about. Many are without jobs and economy is going to the dogs. Let us not aggravate our situation with our foolishness. Yes, we have to be patient. Yes, we have to follow all COVID norms. Yes indeed, we have to wear masks and follow social distancing. Of course, we have to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Let the leaders and laymen of this country act with a sense of duty and move towards that light at the end of the tunnel. Now that light may be hardly visible because there is only a slit on the wall now. As we march forward as responsible citizens, surely there will be light. It will be a bright shining light that would lead us and our future generations to a beautiful life.

vijinarayan57@gmail.com

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:54:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/unmasking-complacency/article34344898.ece

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