P.O. Box 41, 4000 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M6S 2T7
COVID 19 has brought the world to its knees. The news, social media and conversation is all about the virus. And rightly so because it seems that at least in my lifetime, we have never experienced anything like this global threat.
In my Province of Ontario, an emergency has been declared which means everything except essential services is closed. (BTW the liquor store is not closed as I guess this is ‘essential’). This is not a big deal for those of my generation from countries like Pakistan who are used to such ‘shut downs’ having lived through Martial law, coups, “piyya jaam” and major strikes. We are pretty resilient. But the peace-loving Canadian who is born here has not experienced a major crisis and is therefore in a state of shock and mild panic.
However, with every darkness there are always rays of light. Stories of people helping out show that humanity and compassion are still alive and with a mixture of awareness, precaution, dava and dua, we pray and hope that everyone remains safe. Families are bonding whether they like it or not. In a fast-paced world where parents go to work and kids to school, they are being forced to take stock and spend quality time with each other.
Keeping our sense of humor intact is also important. There are dozens of memes floating around which do make us laugh and while some people are offended, it’s a kind of therapy in a world gone mad.
And mad they have become. The ‘toilet paper” wars are very real – I’ve actually seen them happen. At the grocery store, people were lined up till outside and there was no place to park so I just left.
In Africa people came out for a rally against COVID 19. Seriously? When we are being told that social distancing (dafa ho in Urdu) is necessary, a rally?
South Asians are being pretty complacent. The desi stores are well stocked and full of buyers. The “lota” has become very popular and selling like hot cakes. I saw people buying Ludo and carom boards while Dettol is out of stock. My doctor’s appointment will be over the phone.
Indians are falling back on the practice of “namaste” while others are using “Adaab” after a long time. Many niqabis are delighted that their faces are covered and they don’t shake hands anyway.
Desis claim (like me) that we always have enough ‘daal chawal’ in stock for two weeks. We are hoarders by nature so there is always enough backup for emergencies but now there is more.
From my native land of Pakistan there are rumors that the elite Begums are self-isolating because beauty parlors are shut down so they dare not show their faces; in other news, the ‘hired help’ must come to homes for sure because what would life be without “Maasi”, driver and cook – some people are justifying this by saying they are helping them get clean but the poor people have to clamber on buses to get to work. No sympathy here.
This is also a time when evil shows it face. In Toronto a group of thieves dressed in white are knocking on doors and saying they are from the health department and need to check the house for health and safety. Then they rob the house. There are many alerts to warn people against this hoax.
I’m using this time to work on a book and binge watch Pakistani dramas – Alif being my favorite. Then we have discussions over the phone. I am also using this time to read the pile of books on my bedside.
Since kids are generally immune, but can be carriers of the virus my grandson asked me “are schools closed because the teachers are afraid of getting it”? I do not have an answer.