An Epidemic

by Ayesha Adil
  • 13 Apr - 19 Apr, 2024
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

The morning dew: Blog entry 4th March 2020

The Corona Virus – A Pakistani Perspective

I don’t know what to make of this virus. All the hashtags come to mind.

#fear #safe #phobic #afraid #distrust #denial #precaution #resilience #love #WeWillBeatThis #TheHumanRace #GermWarfare

Ibrahim’s school is shut for an unlimited period. Senior grades are being taught through online mediums. Ibrahim is too young for this kind of attention. I’ve decided to make my own in house classroom. His nursery is now a makeshift class. I’ve set up a small whiteboard. Every morning at around 9:30 am we have a 90 minute long class followed by a small snack break and then continuing till 12 noon. All the essentials are covered of Mathematics and English and Urdu. I’ve started him on Science and Literature as well, of course keeping in mind his age and scope. Wednesdays are Art and Activity days. We explore the outside, we go to the garden and at times we even do some cooking in the kitchen. Shopping becomes a day of outdoor activities. We both look forward to that. Not only is it a way to return to some social normalcy but also to gauge the circumstances in the outside world. Once there everything seems too normal. We’re a poor and undisciplined nation, so many of us aren’t wearing masks and are behaving like nothing is wrong. If anyone is outwardly sick we really don’t notice. If anyone sneezes or coughs we might be momentarily suspicious and move away a step or two but other than that we’re carrying on as if it’s all okay.

#Denial #ItWon’tHappenToMe. I really hope so.

The weekends are for relaxation and reading and also watching meaningful movies. I think I have it under control. Or at least I’m forming an illusion that I do. #TillAllisNormal.

Fawad’s office asks him to work from home as much as possible. He works in his study. Generally it’s best that we don’t disturb him and he comes out and goes in at his convenience. I make sure his meals are hot and ready at the kitchen counter so that he can continue at his own pace. He doesn’t demand much attention. He makes his own tea and snacks if he needs any.

Even though, like I said things are normal mostly but there is this underlying fear and apprehension. There’s a lull before the storm. My mind can’t help but go back to the first news of this outbreak. There was an immediate reaction of rejection. This won’t happen to us. It’s a disease restricted for the Chinese and they can deal with it. I’m not proud to say it but in all honesty no one really took it seriously. And we were sympathetic towards the Chinese. Many believed they deserved what they got for their eccentric and dangerous eating habits. However, it began to spread. And then some sense of reality hit us. We became mildly concerned.

More and more cases began to be reported globally. Many more became infected and so many more began to succumb to this virus.

Meanwhile in Pakistan we were still living in our own bubble of euphoria or maybe suffering from the pigeon effect. I am proud of the fact that we are a resilient race. We are quite thick skinned. Years of horrendous crimes and terrorism has made us this way. We generally do not freak easily. Not even an apocalyptic epidemic like this can bring us down.

We kept on repeating the mantra, this won’t happen to us. In fact before the schools shut we really weren’t that concerned but then that all changed.

When the government shut the schools and universities we all began to wake up from our slumber and felt the seriousness of the outbreak. That’s when words like outbreak and epidemic began to take shape and with it all the worry and doubt took an organic form.

Regular awareness campaigns are up on TV and the social media. Wash hands frequently. Do not touch your face and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a mask or any piece of clothing. Build up your immunity by eating well and having a regular intake of Vitamin C. Drink lots of water. Avoid crowded and dense places. The government is doing their job. We are obeying orders.

Pakistanis are tough, like I said. They have a strong immune system owing to the fact that good hygiene and sanitation are really a luxury in this country. Who would have known that being a population that was filthy will work in our favour? But for now it has. It’s an undeniable irony.

Are we deluding ourselves further by believing this? That’s debatable. Maybe it’s all a defense mechanism really. We are doing our best and hoping for the best to happen. I think with the breakdown of class and socioeconomic status we are really doing more than we can manage. This isn’t a rich country and we have limited resources but even with that there is awareness.

I expected our PM to come on national TV and tell us not to worry and when he didn’t, we were left to continue worrying without his words ringing in our ears. In fact, we worried more. We worry for the sick and the weak and the young and the old.

It’s hard to make plans for the future. It’s hard to look into the future.

But with a certain amount of worry comes strength and like the strong race of people we are we bounced back and realised that it’s not all darkness and loss of hope. The mortality rate from the virus is low and only patients who already have a weak immune system or suffer from a respiratory disorder succumb to the horror of the condition. There are people who have been able to fight it off, the young and strong. Survival of the fittest? Evolution and natural selection?

There is also a solid ray of hope owing to the climate of Pakistan, especially Karachi. The virus will not survive in hot and humid weather. Karachi is not its perfect host. I haven’t wished for summer as I wish for it now.

I wish for extreme heat and humidity.

Again, I feel selfish in wanting this. The colder climates will continue to harbour this virus and their citizens will continue to suffer.

No one deserves to die in this manner, lost and alone and afraid.

Then do they deserve to die in Kashmir? Or India? Or in other parts of the world where genocide is supreme? Maybe this virus will bring us together so that we can forget our differences and work towards a more peaceful world.

A small voice inside of me reminds me that it hasn’t happened yet so maybe this again is just a happy, utopic assumption of my overly literary mind.

This virus may bring us together yet. Scientists from all across the world are fighting for a cure and a vaccine. They are putting their collective knowledge to use. The world does not want another plague.

At the other end, I’m sure people are buying shares and multiplying their wealth and making profits out of this disease like we can never imagine.

I think everyone is behaving exactly like they always do. The God fearing are fearing God. The criminals are hastening towards a bigger crime. The financial hub is brimming with buying and selling of shares and the public is the silent flock of sheep waiting for a divine sign.

Is it divine justice maybe for all the hell we’ve brought into the world as humans? The global environmental damage, the plundering of Mother Nature, the killing and the wars? The abuse inside our homes? The rapes? The murders? The sins?

Are we sorry now for our ways? We all just want things to be normal again and for us to be able to breathe again freely. I hope in God’s Infinite wisdom, we will be able to live again without fear and be able to plan and look into a brighter tomorrow.

But for now, we all wait, till it’s over. We’ll try and keep a positive front.

#WeCanFightCorona #ANewDawn #AHealthyWorld #Peace #StopTheKilling” •