Date: June 4th 2020; Location: My home Terrace in a town in South India; Time: 7.00 PM.
I enjoy walking on my terrace every evening. It is one of my daily routines to spend some time in the open air with nature. As usual, I came to my terrace and felt that there was something special about that evening. On the east, the moon rose in the sky shined with a silvery aura and on the west, the sun was setting slowly with a golden light. The black plum tree present at the right side of my terrace swayed in a dancing motion to the cool breeze and the air was clear with a pinch of warmth in it. To the south, a distant hill was visible on which Lord Shiva’s old temple was present. Every year I visited that temple on the festival of Maha Shivaratri. The sight of the flickering diyas (small earthen lamps) was pleasant which were lit outside of the houses. It is a common traditional custom in Hindu households to light a Diya near the holy Basil plant. The twinkling stars in the evening blue sky were fairly visible. It was a lovely evening including the dim street lights. Enjoying that serenity, my mind wandered to life for the past two months.
How the pandemic Noval Corona virus started and impacted millions of lives on this planet? At the end of March 2020, our government declared countrywide lockdown and curfew to stop the pandemic. The day to day lives was disturbed, businesses closed, stocks and shares crashed, many innocent people died and many more suffered. Relatives and friends were stranded in different places and countries and life was altered.
Due to lockdown, the availability of daily groceries, vegetables, and fruits became scarce and simple items like milk, eggs and bread became valuable. It was strange how people realised the value of simple yet essential things in daily life. Everyone from a billionaire to a daily worker suffered in some way or the other and death danced everywhere on this Earth. People were confined to their homes and work from home became an essential work mode. Wearing of masks and hand sanitization became part of life.
I and my mother used to purchase vegetables, fruits, groceries twice in a week in the early morning from 6 to 7 AM. We had an open window of 1 to 2 hours for our purchases and after that, the grocery stalls were removed and shops were closed by the police as a part of lockdown rules. For some days, there was no availability of meat like chicken, mutton and fish. I was introduced to a new word called “social distancing”. Two months ago, people didn’t need the usage and the urgency of the phrase – “Stay Safe and Stay Healthy”. It also became a wish and a needed blessing.
It is said that, in this universe, for any action, there would be two sides, one good and one bad. If death and sufferings were on the bad side of this pandemic, there was something on the good side as well. Difficult times bring people together and teach us some more lessons in life. In the normal busy life of humans, the thing which was difficult to be found was given to them during the lockdown. In my view, that one thing was “Time”. Time to enjoy what we have, to restart abandoned hobbies or a new one, to discover forgotten passions, to spend time with our near and dear, to enjoy more healthy home food, to cherish nature etc.
For the past two months of lockdown in my neighbourhood, I witnessed people coming out to the terraces and rooftops of the houses in the evenings and enjoyed the surroundings. A father played with his children running and roaming, families chitchatted sitting together, an old couple had their evening walk on the roof instead of in a park, some families had their moonlight dinners and some slept under the sky in open-air than the air-conditioned rooms.
For some, the pandemic became a boon and a gift. It was an unexpected outcome. “Nature was healing“. The air, water, flora, fauna including the ozone layer tasted the freshness due to the standby of the human activity. It led to an increase in air purity, water quality all around the world. It was due to the reduction of pollutant emissions from industries, travel traffic. The pollutants like Nitrogen compounds which origin from vehicle exhausts, power plants and wastewater treatments plants were recorded low due to the lock down. The most populated cities in the world experienced clean air and clearer water which didn’t happen in years.
The visibility of the Himalayas from Jalandhar city, the clear waters of the Yamuna River, clean canals of Venice, free-roaming of wild animals on streets and roads, knocking of beautiful birds on our balcony doors were like testimonials to this effect. From cleaner air to liberated wildlife, the situation across the world appeared to give positive effects on nature. An important observation in this whole crisis was that nature, how desperately craved for a little time and space of non-human intervention and how quickly Mother Nature showed the change? Many environmental reforms, nature protection and conservation acts failed to cure our surroundings but a simple lockdown for a few months had shown much better results in this case. A simple but important thought, do we humans should learn something from this effect?
Attributes like courage, strength, bravery, mercy and humanity are needed in such difficult times. It was an irony that one small virus was able to alter the lifestyle of the most intelligent and dangerous species of the planet. One small trigger could change everything around us. Like Mother Nature, how desperate we need a helping hand, a loving heart and courageous support!
On one spring evening, on my terrace, I thanked and prayed to God for my safety and health, for the health of my family, friends and every innocent being on this Earth. I thanked every person who was compassionate and helped a fellow human in such a crisis. If prayer has power, lets us pray and well wish for others so that maybe our prayer would help someone in need in this world. Help might come in some way or the other.
People, Stay Safe and Stay Healthy!