Masking my scepticism

Masking my scepticism

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

Representative image.

A few months ago, when news of a pandemic was just beginning to pick up speed, I had already grown tired of the buzz around the issue. Sanitise your groceries? Wear masks every time you leave home? Ah yes, that must be the side of dystopian reality I ordered with breakfast. 

That morning, when my neighbourhood BMTC bus arrived, I had a good chuckle at the masked driver and the sanitiser-touting conductor. The BMRCL employee at the metro station ticket counter elicited a similar reaction from me with the half-litre bottle of disinfectant beside her. My friend arrived in a tizzy, hugging me warily before squeezing out a glob of glittery gel onto my palms. I was touched that she would share something so precious. 

Soon, my friends and I found ourselves in deep thought at the closest fast food joint, overeating fries contemplatively. This was, of course, after we had each washed our hands to different one-hit wonders for the requisite twenty seconds. As we discussed at length the complete clearing-out of hand sanitiser and the hoarding of provisions, I set my final fry back down.

I could no longer contain myself. “This is all so silly. There is no need to panic,” I found myself stating emphatically to the group, “In about a week, this will all be history. People are just overreacting, and I refuse to be a part of it!” Mercifully, my companions sensed my distress and changed the subject to the economy and other pleasant matters for the rest of the afternoon. 

There is, however, something about a long bus journey back home that leads you into introspection like nothing else. I asked myself if I was being a little too sceptical. Perhaps it would not hurt to be a little more cautious. What if all my fearful fellow travellers were right in multiplying their shopping twice and sanitising thrice? 

I laughed and shook my head. If only everyone had my calm demeanor and graceful poise. They will all feel so silly when the hubbub dies down and they are left with forty-odd packets of instant noodles. Who would be laughing then?

Well, time proved that it was certainly not me. Subsequent weeks of repeatedly phoning medical shops and praying fervently for grocery delivery slots taught me a very important lesson I will not soon forget. Even if “anti-bandwagon” is your middle name, sometimes the best course of action is to close your eyes and jump right on, if only to drive out and stock up on essentials… and don’t forget your mask!