BY Wijith DeChickera
You have to wake up very early in the morning if you want to get the better of a pesky virus that has caused something of a panic of late. But say ‘pandemic’ today, and you’d have to wait till the wind westers and the sun sets over someone’s raised eyebrows.
It’s sunset on the SARS-Cov-2 scare – for better or worse.
The ‘new normal’ has set in with a vengeance. But there’s still no guarantee that washing your hands and physical distancing will improve your temperament or personality. And those intrepid characters who thought the world would change in unimaginable ways have been proven wrong: the more things change, the more they stay the same it seems.
So take an early morning hour stroll along the strand with me and watch what the poet called ‘the seed of Adam’ at play and en route to work, and mull with your friendly neighbourhood ruminant the meaning of life.
To help us, we have the pleasant company of five imaginary characters who are as much a figment of my imagination as I am of yours!
Let’s walk and talk together – as the whiting said to the snail in that seaside fantasy – of ships and shoes and ceiling wax, and cabbages and kings.
THE POET I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and sky; and all I ask – wait, why is there so much litter on the beach if the country has been under curfew for so long? And why are the plebeian coastal trains packed tighter than the proverbial sardine can?
And is that a convoy of luxury vehicles I see carting the dishonourable unmentionables to that charnel house? When will our island race learn not to trust their elected representatives to work for the upliftment of the people?
THE PRIEST As the sparks fly upward, so humankind is born to trouble. On the one hand, some communities of faith – while missing their familiar places of congregation – came to understand that ‘worship’ is a state of mind… not a building – but no sooner it was safe to congregate again, there goes the real ‘spiritual communion’ in favour of coming and going!
On the other, COVID-19 is a great leveller: there are no atheists in a global catastrophe; only agnostics hoping that there’s some rhyme or reason to what’s happening.
THE PROPHET You and your whole race are the cause of nature being red in tooth and claw. Does it matter whether the novel coronavirus was made in the bowels of a lab or the blood of a bat? Where does humanity go from here… speaking of which, I must go down to the pub again or the park or walking track: ‘The end of the world is nigh!’ say I.
Sigh… why are so many folks at Independence Square exercising with their masks on? Legalism? Etiquette? Not read the latest health ministry communiqué? Hopelessness? Fad or fashion?
THE PSYCHOLOGIST Note how we’ve developed cognitive insights such that we recognise each other even with a mask on. But when our elders and betters, or the so-called thought and opinion leaders of the land, let their masks fall, even then we cannot see them for who they are.
And bank robbers are being put out of business by depositors marching up to the tellers’ counters with summary demands. By the way, the mere act of wearing a mask doesn’t make you immune to stupidity, prosecution or infection.
THE PHILOSOPHER There is nothing either good or bad – it’s only thinking that makes it so. There you go. Open your mind wide and say ‘Ah!’
That’s a fantasy right there in five easy pieces. So chew the cud as the seasons change from summer to autumn. But don’t blame me if there’s a bleak midwinter around the corner. The end of the world – if this is what it is – seldom runs to schedule.
That, my friends, is the coming of wisdom with time…