When there is the rare trip out to go to the Supermarket on the day of the week your surname allows, it is quite a palaver in general. But when Ram described his experience of this, it was news to me. He said he likes going out, he likes the standing in the queue, he likes the way the policemen chat to people, he likes watching everyone in masks acting as if it is ordinary, he likes everything. Or at worst, he doesn’t mind any of it that much. Except. Except, when he gets home, he finds it a drag to take off his mask, his glasses, take out his credit card and ID card, his coins from his pocket, take off his watch and put all this on a table for cleaning down with sanitizer. And to him, le comble is his having to strip off his outer layer of clothing and his savat leponz and put them in the washing machine, and go for an immediate shower – all as a condition to being “allowed” in home. So I said, well what’s so wrong with all that? I mean compared with queuing up with a trolley, standing there in a mask? Compared with people coming and aiming a gun-like thing at your brow to take your temperature. And so on. Anyway, I, being a woman, have to actually wear another whole layer of clothing to go out, just so that – our washing machine being visible to at least three families of neighbours – I can take my outer clothes off, whereas he being a man is allowed to just strip down to his underpants. I thought him the most unusual person in the world to find this last bit of the ritual ordeal so truly offensive. It takes all sorts, I thought to myself.
Anyway, a few days later, a LALIT friend said over the phone he was absolutely exhausted. He had just got home from going out to get his mother’s pension address changed at one office and then pick up the pension at another. So, I said, “You had to walk far, no buses and all, no wonder you were tired,” and he said. “No, it’s not that!” I said, “Oh you mean the psychological thing of all the bureaucratic demars?” and he said, “No, not that.” It was getting like a guessing game. I then said, “You mean you the child having become the parent of your Mom?” And he said, “No not that either.” He says what he can’t stand is this business of, when he gets back, having to take off all his things: a mask, gloves, keys, mobile phone, changing clothes in a corner of the shower, and subjecting himself to a shower just to walk through his front door.”
So, it’s obviously not so unusual.
Then today, speaking to a friend who works as a nurse, I asked if she had had time to relax at home, with her being on leave from the front-line of work with triage of coronavirus cases. I said how exhausting it must be. Physically, psychologically. How draining. To my surprise, she said, “The most exhausting thing, the thing I most dread is the palaver when I get home from work. Putting down my bag, cleaning it, taking the purse I’ve touched out of it. Taking off my shoes, then my clothes and immediately getting them into the wash. My work clothes. My non-work clothes. And then going for a shower at once.” And she said, “You always feel you have to concentrate so hard. What if you forget one thing you’ve touched. Bringing that possible viral load home.”
So, even then, it’s the health workers who have it hardest. To her, even getting in and out of those space-suit PPEs, which is really hell, is to her less of an imposition than the bother and stress of keeping her house-space relatively “clean” of the virus.
It must be something to do with the feeling of pleasure at getting home and relaxing, and having this happiness deferred – forcibly? I don’t know.
Anyway, it turns out I’m the unusual one. Takes all sorts.
Well it sure does not bother me compared to everything else. Like, for example, preparing what to say to any policeman who might stop me, demand my papers at any time, and even charge me with being out during the lockdown. It is a “misdemeanor”, which DCP Jhugroo pompously announced on TV means that, if found guilty, I would have this offence inscribed as a black mark on my “morality certificate” – as Mauritians sarcastically persist in calling this offensive document.
And talking about sarcasm. I cannot not mention what happened yesterday on “sarcasm”. The dangerous loon, Donald Trump, who happens also to be President of the biggest by far nuclear power, said in his formal daily Press Briefing in the White House, that patients of Covid might benefit if doctors tried illuminating the interior of their bodies with UV or other bright light, or alternatively (I lie not) inject people with disinfectant. After doctors all over the world went berserk and the owners of Lysol (Rajesh Bhagwan’s famous recipe for suicide) put out a strong warning on the mortal dangers of trying this mad solution, Donald Trump then said, in a new statement, that he had only said this “sarcastically”. He is just like Marlène Joubert, I think it was, in a bad spoof cops-and-robbers film, when the police inspector says, but I’ve caught you red-handed, throws the relevant black bag of money out the moving car window, and says, “Oh, no you haven’t!” To be sure I’m not exaggerating, you really must Google these two video clip statements to experience the new dastard low in world leadership.
The clips are easily found in the article at this link:
You can see both two-minute clips. (It is also worth noting how Trump’s habitual lashing out at journalists is again captured – when he is not lashing out at Democrats, at the WHO, at China, all in an attempt to pull earth over the excrement he spreads.)
And Donald Trump never, to my humble knowledge, never ever, in any way portrays dismay at the complete disarray and tragic pressure under which American hospital service workers are labouring every day. Nor does he grieve at the mass graves being filled when the mortuary services in New York City could no longer keep up. Nor does he mourn the sheer loss of life for 50,000 families in the country he presides over.
He is indeed the most dangerous of leaders. So, politics here and world politics continue even as we struggle with the daily discomforts of the lockdown.
for LALIT, a personal view.