My muse – In the midst of the Corona storm

Author: 
Subhash Mathur

Subhash Mathur was born and brought up in small towns in Rajasthan. During his school and college education at Jaipur, he was keenly involved in sports, journalism and public speaking. His civil services career has given him a platform for spreading his ideas about modernising tax administration to benefit the common man. Post retirement he is devoting his energies, along with his wife Tilak, to public and humane causes.

I am touching 74. I thought that at my age I had seen it all. I was ready to believe that there was no way I could really live a major new twist in my life. In terms of freedom to move around or ready availability of veggies or groceries or meats or even bread and butter. Or my freedom to meet others with full freedom.

I also thought I was placed well enough in life with a decent pension and enough funds invested wisely to happily live through the rest of my life surrounded by sons , daughters-in-law and grandkids.

Over the years I was witness to severe floods and earthquakes which caused huge damages of life property and psyche.

I was in 9th standard in school during the Chinese invasion of 1962. Foolishly but out of patriotism I signed up for driving trucks. At that time I was driving our family Hillman without a license. But the atmosphere was surcharged and each one of us was sucked into volunteer duty even though we were far too young for any heavy duty. Mercifully they ignored such enthusiasm.

I was in college in 1965 during the Indo-Pak conflict. I recall the heroic feats of WWII vintage Indian Gnats and Hunters and de Havillands and Vampires and Dassault Mysteres ably supported by Sherman and Centurion tanks which were so outdated but used adroitly by our soldiers.

In 1966 I watched with horror American PL 480 red wheat being doled out on around the posh Statue Circle in Jaipur. Five kg per family per week. The red wheat was barely palatable but then there was no choice, so to speak.

But against the run of play India helped Bangladesh win Freedom from Pakistan. A moment for glory for the Indian armed forces and the political leadership.

I have witnessed huge political turmoil in 1969 which led to the breakup of Indian National congress.

I have lived through the curfew imposed in Jaipur due to a fractured mandate in the State Assembly election results in 1969. It was an eerie situation. Suddenly all traffic and pedestrians had disappeared from the streets. Just like these days.

Then again the total railway strike of 1974 led by the firebrand George Fernandes paralysed the entire railway system and the movement of all good and passenger service. Those days only Indian Airlines offered very limited services.

The railway strike combined with the Allahabad High Court judgment in the Madame Gandhi case led to to the imposition of national Emergency in June 1975.
The aftermath of the Emergency led to huge changes in the political firmament. Opposition combined to the surprise of one and all. Right wing Jan Sangh on one end and leftists at the other.
After all they now all had a common enemy!

And out of the chaos, India won the Cricket World cup in 1983. Fans like me became delirious. CD of the Final game became a prized possession.

The Bhuj trembler in 2001 was severe in intensity and the earth shook for eternity and repeatedly in quick succession. Our mid rise building swayed from side to side many times forcing us to flee. It did not fall but and developed huge cracks and became inhabitable.

Political turmoil, change of governments, agitations, and prosperity, I thought had seen it all.

And perhaps the time was right to slip away quietly and possibly anonymously.
But life always has a twist in the tail and something new to throw up and surprise you.
As long as you are alive.

But imagine a tiny little deadly virus. Opens its fangs and challenges the modern progressive scientific world.
No Answers. The world has no answers.
A new virus. A deadly virus. Catching the whole wide world by surprise.

How deadly?
Advanced medical science is taken aback. Hospitals have no treatment. Medical staff is catching the infection and dying. Shortage of all kinds of man power and equipment. And funds too.

And the Answer. Stay at home. Keep social distancing. Wash your hands frequently with soap. Minimum twenty seconds we are told.
Use sanitizers. Use masks outside your home. If positive, go into quarantine.
But the most galling: stay at home for 24 × 7 × 21 days with possibility of extension. And the extension happened. For sure. How to deal with this Lock Up? In my own house.

Do I have any answers? Do I have the hobbies which will keep me occupied and interested?
Of course not. I am caught on the wrong foot. And in top of all that I am part of the most vulnerable group.

Senior citizen well into seventies. Why are these guys alive at all?
Children from America shout: Papa don’t go out. Children from Ahmedabad call out: Dad, please don't step out.
But I need my medicines. From CGHS? They are not one or two but in larger numbers. And for three months at a time.
And my wife Tilak needs her insulin vials. She’s fast running out of her stock.
Only I can get the medicines. I have to go. If I don’t go we will be hit badly by other illnesses.
So what do I do?

I become strong. I pick up my CGHS card and the previous prescriptions.
I don my mask and my cheap gloves picked up from $ Dollar store in San Jose.
And I drive. Two kilometers away. I am checked out by police once. But I have my driving license and prescriptions handy. Rest is smooth.
Doctors and medical staff is too kind. They quickly prescribe and dispense the medicines. For three months.
That makes me not happy but relieved.

But I need to go again the next day. Why? To pick up some of the indented medicines not available in stock on day one.
Another trip. No choice. Same gear.

But what are my hobbies? I used to be a Boss. Now in retirement there's no one to Boss over. Can I Boss over my wife? Fat chance.

Yet I keep busy. I read a lot. Online on Kindle.
I write short stories. Yes. I can use my computer well. I ask many others to write. And they respond generously. And I publish them on www.inourdays.org.
They are thrilled. Quickly they share the link widely. On Facebook. On Instagram. On Whatsapp. On Tinder? No No. How silly can I be.

But how long can one go on doing this? Have we reached the end our tether?
But I wish could draw or paint or play guitar? Or even sing. Like Kapil Sharma! Ha Ha!
All in vain.

But I survive happily? How? I know how to be happy and remain happy.

My wife Tilak and I are friends after all. Since September 1971.

Is this my catharsis? The jury is out.


Editor's Note

This story is part of our series on the coronavirus pandemic of 2019-2020. Here is the complete series so far. Readers are welcome to keep contributing!

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