Our Pride and Prejudices

Dr Navniit Gandhi
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Is this pandemic a conspiracy? Seems probable…

Is it a severe blow to our lives and livelihoods? Yes, it certainly is…

Has it caused grief to millions? Yes!

Could it have happened to us? Yes…

Was this phase supposed to be taken by us as a bonus on life? A fresh lease of life?


And, some of us exactly did just that. Some of us--- whether we saw death at close quarters or not, grabbed this bonus on life with both hands and took that much needed ‘pause’. We did what any of us would do if we wake up one day and find out that we must depart from earth in 5 minutes, and the next instant, we are told that, ‘no, it was a mistake…you have one full day more to live.’ Won’t we just grab that one day with both our hands and shed tears of joy? We would rush to our loved ones with lots of hugs and say lots of unsaid warm words. We would listen to our favourite music or look up at the sky trying to absorb all the beauty and walk barefoot on grass or go to the beach or play with our kids and look intently into their eyes. We would ‘connect’ with ourselves and with our spouses and parents and one or two very special friends.

If given a bonus of 24hrs on life, am sure that we would shed all pretense; and that pride would bow out humbly from within us and take our prejudices along with too.
The unseen virus that this corona is, is a ‘bonus’. We need not be proud that because we took all precautions that we are unaffected; that because we didn’t step out, we are safe or that because we take good care of our systems and our immunity is strong, we escaped the horror… No! Anybody can still anywhere be infected and then age, gender, immunity, wealth, beauty, status, country and race----just about nothing matters much; almost nothing. It is not that those who were young did not lose lives or those who reached hospitals on time didn’t or that those who were cautious haven’t got infected.

However, we are still alive!

Has this ‘bonus’ pushed our pride and prejudices aside a bit? We must ask ourselves…

In the initial few days as we tried to grasp what has happened, we were bewildered, perhaps a little shocked that a tiny little virus would enter from anywhere and life could be over in a day or two…

That shock and bewilderment ought to have led us into the next stage of gratitude and pause. Gratitude because we are alive; we have our loved ones with us and we also have food and even a job. Priorities ought to have been urgently jotted down. Humility ought to have walked in majestically as pride bowed out.

However, some of us have looked at this 24-hr lockdown period as an empty space which must be hastily filled up. We were and are scared deep down because we haven’t spent such days in isolation with oneself, or even so many days at a stretch with loved ones at home either. We began to fill up with whatever we could lay hands upon---- incessant cooking with little regard to health, limitless watching of videos, online courses, webinars, non-stop chatting on e-platforms, aimlessly watching TV and even drinking, shouting, fighting, accusing and blaming everything and everyone.

It was supposed to be a time to ‘disconnect’ from what doesn’t matter and ‘connect’ with who and what matters. Instead, fear and pride again took over and we filled our days with a lot of meaningless stuff. Are we so afraid or insecure that we shall lag behind in the rat race? Or, afraid that we shall be accused of doing nothing? The desire to prove a point or to prove our hold over life and destiny and over people seems to be unquenchable… Only a few of us have spent moments contemplating how we could respect Mother Nature better and ensure livelier and sustainable world for our kids.

And then there are those who, during this lockdown period, took the cues and have read (themselves and to their kids), played, sang, painted, written, tried to equip with a new skill and even become a little less haughty and aggressive in life. When this crisis ends, they shall feel lighter, wiser, and brighter for they would have in both their hands happy memories of time spent together with loved ones and memories of what the reflecting moments taught them… They would feel humble because they know what ‘being alive’ means; and grateful for the jobs and spouses, kids, parents and friends they have. Their compassion towards the sufferings of millions others, would give them the strength to go on.

Alas! There shall be families wherein children would carry scars of domestic violence or have weaker eyes and backs because of remaining glued to screens or they would remember how their parents hoarded groceries oblivious to the needs of others and that how the parents were scared and insecure or were drinking and shouting at each other…

And then there are those who didn’t waste a second from the ‘bonus’ that this virus gave us, and creatively contributed to the indigenous making of PPEs, masks, ventilators, reusable beds made from cardboard, mobile wards in railway coaches and innumerable other much-needed stuff. They spent this period devising ways in which they could contribute by way of ideas, food-packets, products and services that made millions others get this ‘bonus’ on life, when it could have been otherwise.

All of us cannot be in the frontline, fighting the crisis. While we salute those who are, can we, the rest, push forward our humility and gratitude (hidden behind the giant mountains of pride and prejudices) to the frontline?

Dr. Navniit Gandhi is an academic, writer, author and a trainer/counsellor. Her write-ups can be read at navniitspeaks.wordpress.com
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