Life in COVID-19 times
IFP Editorial: The fear of the virus is such that social and familial traditions have disappeared and it has come down to the proverbial ‘everyone for himself’ syndrome.
It is not the fear of contracting the Covid-19 virus alone, but the worry and stress associated with it and the monotony of life in lockdown as well which is affecting us every day. The young, middle-aged and the elderly have their own set of worries and frustrations. However, the one common denominator is that social life has changed drastically at the individual level as well as at the family and community level, either for a better or bleaker future. For a long time to come, the impact of this pandemic will remain with the human race. Added to the fear of contracting the virus in a pandemic such as COVID-19 are the significant changes to our daily lives as our movements are restricted in support of efforts to contain and slow down the spread of the virus. Faced with new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, online education or home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues, mental health of individuals is taking a toll. Life for the elderly and the retired has been meeting friends and making small talk about life and its worries and reminiscing about the good old days which has been disrupted with the current norm of social and physical distancing besides the absence of community interaction. The very essence of community life and participation in functions, religious or otherwise, has been completely done away with and it is more devastating than the impact of urbanisation in community life. The fear of the virus is such that social and familial traditions have disappeared and it has come down to the proverbial ‘everyone for himself’ syndrome.
First, the anxiety was of the virus arriving in the state and to the district. Second, it is about the virus reaching our leikai and neighbours. Third, it is the arrival in the family collective or kollup and then among the immediate family members. The only living institution of social and community partnership in the form of Singlup is itself being threatened now with the onset of the pandemic. Immediate family members have to fend for themselves in the rites and rituals of the dead, while people are afraid to attend the ‘rites of passage’ related religious ceremonies of friends and relatives now. It is as if the umbilical cord of social and community bindings has been cut. This aspect has had an impact not only on the life of the elderly but the middle-aged folk as well. Their favourite past-times and work has been thrown out of gear. The most affected is family life, where old grudges and unwanted history is dug up as a result of confinement at home and lack of activity souring husband-wife relations. When life was normal, neither the husband nor wife noticed the small things. But in a lockdown, every gesture or nuance comes under the microscope thereby causing problems in family interactions.
On the other hand, it is the youth who is suffering most whose life has been interrupted with unprecedented restrictions. The boredom associated with the monotony of the lockdown and inactivity has dulled the innovative nature of the youth, and life for them has been reduced to a window of the mobile phone and internet with its games and movies. Life in Covid-19 times is a frustrating experience for the youth and the students, with even the state in the dark as to how to deal with closure of the class-rooms and the uncertainty of board examinations. In recent times, the central government has been exploring options on the fate of students of Class XII as against the impossibility of examinations during the pandemic. Our honest suggestion would be declaring the results not on the basis of a board examination, but on the basis of the monthly assessments.