I had been pleasantly surprised that, for 34 days, the Ragoo Lane portion of Bambous had been silent. Other than some early outbreaks of domestic rows. One relevant family has pivoted from domestic fights to what sound like wildly hilarious games of dominoes, instead. It doesn’t sound like they’re respecting physical distancing but the mango tree is too thick for me to see through to their balcony. And anyway, it’s all-round preferable to domestic violence, which doesn’t respect social distancing in any case. So, it’s a change in the right direction.
It has been true peace. Bliss. No traffic. Although our lane is a cul de sac it still used to be full of accelerating mini-vans, cars, motorbikes. No more sounds from the metal workshop across the way, using power tools. I was the only guilty one, making a racket with the brush-cutter one quiet afternoon. No vegetable merchants, or postmen, no egg-sellers or ice-cream vendors with Yankee Doodle on a loop over an Ahuja loudspeaker. No-one selling detergent by the gallons, announcing it loudly. Under lockdown, generally it’s been the birds and, high up in the trees, whispering secrets brought from afar, the wind.
But then on Day 34 high decibels began to pound out.
Both neighbours guilty in ordinary times of emitting such decibels do not usually do so for too long. Nor do they strike up at the most irritating of times. And more importantly, both neighbours have fine, truly rich, tastes in good music. And the two households seemed always to take it in turns to ghetto blast us. But, in lockdown, all day today, there have been two different high-volumed sets of excellent music bellowing out at the same time.
So, I have been treated to upper-end popular Indian music blasting from one side and Bob Marley in a live concert from the other side. Making not counterpoint, nor quodlibet, I think the word is, but cacophony. Soon this cacophony morphed into what I’ve got right now: A fine, rasping Eric Triton voice simultaneous with the best South African jazz band I’ve ever heard playing anywhere in any form in Mauritius. This one almost worked.
So, cabin fever must finally have started to get to those neighbours who own a loud music apparatus and who have, for over 30 days, kept it turned right down low, enjoying the quiet. And now, it seems, they are trying to banish cabin fever, jointly and severally, by means of decibels. Like pus jab par sonn petar, exorcizing devils by setting off fire-crackers.
But soon, I am sure, everything will be back to the birds and the wind, though. As they say, bondye gran. And the birds chirp louder.
Meanwhile, for more hours than usual, I watch television – depending on where the action is. So, I follow Coronavirus via American CNN, Qatari Al Jazeera, the British BBC, Chinese CGTN, Turkish TRT, Indian NDTV (for which you have to practice a bit to become literate enough to watch at all), France 24 (in French and English versions), the German DW (like there is a new German vaccine being tested) and, of course, Mauritius’ own MBC (for the news and the official update on Coronavirus every day). I enjoy not seeing Pravind Kumar Jugnauth every day on the MBC. Small blessings. I also watch things like The Intercept – yesterday there was Mehdi Hasan and Arundhati Roy on India, Narendra Modi, and the Coronavirus (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBOg7AlrY4U).
And that brings me to the question – not asked often on any of the mainstream channels – of how much we need to prepare ourselves mentally to get back into the struggle to create a better world, as we, as societies, surface out of lockdown. Everyone, previously politically committed or not, must begin to think, and to think together with others as well as on our own, of the consequences of the trends that we have seen exposed so raw during the lockdown, that suggest we need urgent action on:
1. How will we deal with the pollution that is detonating tipping points, including climate change, and with the deniers in power? It has been difficult enough to deal with something as relatively easy as a coronavirus, which the deniers tried to deny? And go back to denying, the minute they get a chance, pretending that the result of the control and mitigation of the epidemic as a result of the lockdown and social distancing is the same as if we had carried on as before.
2. How will we deal with the lack of proper public health and prevention that has been exposed as so under-nurtured? How will we expand and improve and unify the entire health system in Mauritius? How gain independence of the big drug companies?
3. How will we deal with the nuclear and other war preparations world-wide, starting for us with the base on Diego Garcia, now our totally undeniable responsibility? The danger and the waste of resources of the military.
4. And underpinning all this, how will we deal with the powerlessness under capitalism of the working classes, including the unemployed, the pensioners, the casual workers? How can we organize to seize power, as a class, from the parasitic bourgeoisie? So that we can then save the planet, democratically, from pollution and its effects, organize health care, demilitarize, and spend all that money on health and education, and get democratic control over those “executive Branches” like the Prime Minister and Cabinet that are the sirdars of the capitalists?
Well, it will take some organizing. But, the epidemic has ensured that we have all been warned.
for LALIT, a personal view.