We are all learning to function in a virus ridden world. It’s changed the way we live.
In these frightening uncertain times, a dash of humour may help to keep your sanity intact. At least it works for me!
Corona Ke Side effects are short humorous write ups detailing how life has changed since the strike of the Big Villain.
The blog is approx. 2000 words and a 7 minute read.
Effect 1: There is a new Big V (Villain) in our lives which leaves Voldemort shuddering.
Three weeks ago in Westfield shopping centre, London (no ‘suggested’ lockdown in the UK then):
Hubby fixing the pram quickly to plonk our crying baby in it as I struggle to keep her occupied with a rattle which she has grown out of now. She is one year old and expects to be taken seriously. She points to objects wanting them to be brought to her like the Queen of England (who at this moment is MIA having been whisked away urgently due to one of her staff members catching ‘you-know-what’).
Well, my baby might as well stand in. She has the royal manners to match and treats us no more than disobedient serfs. As he dilly and dallies with the various knobs and bolts of the complicated pram that might as well be a war machine, I grow impatient. ‘Lower that lever type thingy from there.’
He gives me a superior look and I know what that means. It says, Really? You realise you are talking to an engineer here.
‘Aray, it’s that one.’ I growl at him while my baby points away with her tiny little finger raising her eyebrows at me. I have to comply with explanations, ‘That’s a shop!’
Another aggressive point, ‘Window!’
People turn around to glance at my rude cat calls.
I look at my husband with the same bright smile and monosyllable, ‘Hurry!’
He frowns at me, ‘Why don’t you do it then?’
He’s got the pram dismantled but it’s floppy. ‘There is a pedal thing at the back.’
‘Usko Karo!’ I instruct him as my baby not getting attention now starts crying loudly. He ignores me thinking he knows best.
‘Usko KARO NA! KARO NA!’ I yell over my crying baby, pointing at him huddled behind the pram.
The crowds part, they give us a wide birth, I hear audible gasps and a scream. I look around to see people fleeing from us in all directions. I redden and my husband gets up slowly. ‘Thanks! They all think I’m a confirmed case now.’
Effect 2: Clean, clean, clean, din raat karen hum clean!
I have amped up my cleaning by 200%, scrubbing and disinfecting around the house and sometimes I feel it’s what I do all day long. My baby is an observant little munchkin as most one years old are. She has picked up on the new world order quite quickly. She reaches for her baby wipes with great difficulty even if they’re placed far away from her, picks out a wipe and starts scrubbing the table tops or any surface she can reach thoroughly with her small hands imitating me.
Watching me wash my hands a million times, she follows suit. When her hands get dirty, she shows them to me palms up, even in between meal times, refusing her meal until her hands are clean again. This means wastage of many more wipes which are already in short supply.
The other morning, around 5:30 am, she climbed over me with great difficulty like one climbs K2, trying to get to a tissue box. I pulled her back many times but she was desperate to get it. Finally giving in, I pulled out a tissue and handed it to her, ‘Here, happy?’
She grinned widely and then started scrubbing my face and nose. At 5:30 in the morning.
Effect 3: You long for forbidden pleasures like ……scratching nose.
Why is it that when we are forbidden to do something we want to do it more. I haven’t ever felt like scratching my face, my nose, my forehead and even my mouth as much as I feel like doing it now. Just because I shouldn’t. Just because it’s forbidden.
Normally, I would love the chance of never getting out of house and had to drag myself out, packing the baby bag, getting dressed, making sure baby was fed and changed and it seemed like a long drawn out marathon before getting to the front door; exhausted even before venturing out. However, it had to be done for baby classes, the GP visit or the walk which was good for the baby.
Now, when I cannot do this anyway I should feel thrilled and instead I feel this compulsive need to walk the streets like a lone ranger singing;
‘Corona ke Mausam main…hmmmm….tanhai ke aalam main….hmmm….mein ghar se nikal aya, mask bhi saat laya…Abhi zinda hoon tou jeene do….Saans bhar ke pee lene do ..’
The big V replies in sing song…
*dressed as an Evil Shahenshah
‘Andheri Raton mein, sunsan rahon mein…EK VIRUS nikalta hai….usse log Corona kehte hai..’
Effect 4: You watch stuff that you wouldn’t even think of in good times prior to 2020.
Watched everything reasonably palatable on Netflix already? No worries- watch cool adverts on you tube!
I was watching an old Pakistani advert today, Dettol Sheron ke panje, 2017, in which children were shown aggressively hand washing, forcing the adults (a little weird but ok) to do so as well and using an antiseptic gel where soap water wasn’t available. Love the lines in there Sher apne panje nahi dhote…answer magar chohe bhi apne panje nahi dhote. And haath kaun dhoye bahut door hai washroom..answer- hospital bhi bahut door hai kahi wahan na jana per jaye. Incredibly far sighted. Dettol knew. Dettol has always been our friend.
Soon, there might be host of antiseptic gel and cleaning spray brand adverts with the cleaning tool featured as a super hero with a cape flying at the back fighting against the biggest evil villain virus of them all. Play superman theme tune. And the Covid-19 red pointy ball quivers in fear in a corner.
Effect 5: Doing things you never did before, from the limited confines of your home, like suddenly taking to tweeting ferociously.
Still bored out of your wits (in between cleaning/home schooling your darlings demons?)-No problem tweet the UK PM, the Mayor and add BBC for the heck of it! Not just once but multiple times every day. Last time, I was this active on twitter was when I was newly pregnant and my hormones were all over the place. Then, I was tweeting away about some fire which broke out in our neighbourhood and the pictures were used in all the leading newspapers. Now, the topic of my tweets is why are some people who can easily work from home not being allowed to?
I was this close to tweeting Shahrukh khan as well asking him what his opinion was on this issue. Imagine, trains are still full, offices are full with the big bad virus roaming free. The UK government guidelines still say ‘IF POSSIBLE, work from home’ which some employers are using as leeway to harass very reluctant staff to make the perilous journey from home via tubes to their office. To update you -my tweets have been royally ignored with zero impact but hey a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do!
Effect 6: Appreciating things and people you never did before.
Doctors have always been revered in Pakistan. The prized hunted bahu is always a doctor and the prized damaad for that matter too. We address them as doctor sahib and try our best to please them. Not so much in UK. GPs and hospital staff are routinely abused and shouted at. It’s so bad that they have posters up in their hospitals and clinics asking staff to be reasonable and not abuse them.
A heart felt message from a doctor in UK, just off his shift was in tears saying that after this is all over he just wants doctors and nurses to be given nothing big but just some respect some extra coffee breaks or free parking space. This was his level of expectation and I cried along with him.
Today, at 8:00pm there was scheduled clapping for NHS workers across the UK from doorsteps, windows etc. As I clapped I felt obliged, proud and grateful to not only the health care workers in UK, but in Pakistan and all over the world. For the first time, I regretted ignoring my mother’s express wish that her daughter should be a doctor.
Moreover, we begin appreciating things we took so much for granted. Like the cleanish air we breathe. The handshakes between colleagues, the hugs between relatives, the kisses to children, the stroll to the market and missing days of cleaning at home because the maasi didn’t turn up.
Effect 7: New thriller-A walk on the wild side.
Our Boris Bhai said between clenched teeth, ‘You are allowed one exercise per day outdoors, alone or with your family members!’ I’ve normally kept myself locked up in the house but as the BBC radio host advised recently in a gentle philosophical tone ‘If you feel yourself climbing up the walls and it’s all getting a bit too much, just get out for a walk for a bit (of course maintaining required distance etc.).’ I gave myself a hard look in the mirror. Crazy yet or crazy not? Would picking a flower in a love me love me not mode prove my madness? I looked around. No flower in sight. It was a non-essential item so why would it be in the house stocked with pastas, rice, daal and kitchen towels. I looked at the walls. While they didn’t look tempting enough to climb up I wanted to give them a kick or two.
I decided I needed a walk. Mindful of maintaining a 2 meters distance between myself and any other brave soul who was out probably doing their quota of one exercise or shopping for necessities. As the saying these days goes ‘Stay six feet apart or go six feet under!’. I needn’t worry. People roaming the streets were as scared as I was and engaging in a little co-ordinated dance. See a human coming down the lane, assess if he is going to cross road to other side, if not you do. I inch towards the road and he does too. It’s all a bit confusing. One of us is sure to die of a car accident before catching something off each other. Finally, he jumps onto the road to avoid me and dashes to the other side narrowly missing a speeding car. I sigh in relief.
A few meters down, I hear footsteps behind me. Egad! Someone is following me. Will they actually cross me? The tension builds up. I speed up, the irritating person behind me speeds up as well. I break into a run crossing the road to the other side. Finally safe! I look around to see who my evil follower was. A woman is pointing at something shiny on the floor. My glittery wallet. Ah shucks! I nod in understanding from the other side and wait for her to leave. I then dash to pick up my wallet which must have slipped out of my coat pocket.
The walk has tensed me more than relaxed me, like being in a moving thriller. Will you bump into someone with the virus today? Will you survive the journey home? On the way back to my house I cross the primary school right on the main road off our street. The school is shut down, deserted and a few drawings made by the toddlers are put up on the fence/hedge with notes to doctors, teachers and postmen thanking them for what they do (Pics attached). It’s the sweetest thing and puts a big smile on my face. There’s a small little drawing saying ‘I hope you are happy at home, learning and keeping safe. Look after yourself.’ Colourful rainbows drawn remind me there is still hope and happiness at the end of this storm.
The walk is suddenly worth it. I used to get irritated at crossing a bunch of screaming/unruly toddlers every day on my way to work and I suddenly realise how much I miss them. I pray they are safe. I pray everyone is safe and healthy. May Allah keep us all in his protection. Inshallah.
P.S. Having put up with me till the end, I thank you and bid you farewell for now. You missed a spot of grease in that corner of your work top right there and I need to go spray the whole house and myself with Dettol water as well.
Image credit: The idealist-FB.
The drawings are by children in a nearby school in my neighbourhood.