In Krishna Nagar, Golaghat, people took precautions against COVID-19 by blocking the main road to their colonies for outsiders (2 April 2020).
By Mithu Das May 31, 2020
Being a workaholic, I didn't like the coronavirus lockdown. However, as there was no other way to stop spreading this virulent virus (SARS-CoV-2), so we had to bite the bullet. The nightmarish lockdown started on 24 March and is still continuing though it gradually eases now.
For me, the lockdown was a curse. I had lost my appetite, couldn't sleep at night, and felt dizziness most of the time. All day I lay down on the bed gripping the phone and browsing Internet for coronavirus updates or watching YouTube. When the lockdown started, I thought I would start to read books—some serious books such as The Heart of Darkness—which I always wanted to read but couldn't due to lack of time. But my plan to read books soon had to be abandoned as my mind suddenly became notoriously fickle. I couldn't concentrate on reading any more.
The first week of the lockdown felt like if I was travelling on a slow passenger train that runs late and stops at every station, driving its passengers mad with boredom. Then came the second week, and I was so irked on board that, without wasting any more time, I jumped out of the train, took my bicycle, and started roaming the streets. For the next few hours, I felt like a bird accidentally freed from the cage.
Needless to say, the lockdown was strictly enforced in my hometown. Not a single vehicle or a motorcycle other than Assam Police's had been seen in the streets. Few people who were venturing the streets, either on foot or on bicycles, going to buy either groceries or medicines. When I was cycling through the town I saw people queued standing in circles drawn in front of pharmacies and grocery shops.
As soon as the lockdown entered the third week, it had made life difficult for many poor people, especially those who were living a hand-to-mouth existence. Relief packages hadn't been delivered to them; consequently, the government was widely criticized for neglecting the poor. There—in my neighborhood (Krishna Nagar)—live a rickshaw puller and two women who take menial jobs to feed their children. All were tenants and none had Ration cards. When I asked them if they had got any help from the government, they replied they hadn't.
The next day, however, things had changed a bit for the needy. A group of woman from our neighbourhood took up a collection and distributed it among the poor. (My mother contributed a fifty rupee note, two kilos of rice and some potatoes to the fund.) Then, on Wednesday (April 8), officials from Golaghat Municipal Board visited our neighbourhood and started inquiring about people who hadn't got a Ration card. The two women and the rickshaw puller came forward and each had been given Rs.1000 as a relief package. (People who got Ration card received free rice twice a month and Jan Dhan account holders received Rs.500.)
On Monday the 13th, when the lockdown entered its fifth week, some people were so terribly getting bored staying at home and drinking lime juice that they wanted to try something stronger. And I suppose the government was able to read their minds at the right moment! That day, at 10:00, wine shops were opened amid coronavirus lockdown. However, unlike other parts of India, people hadn't been seen struggling through the scrum to buy liquor in Golaghat. They'd well maintained the six feet norm while queuing in front of the wine shops.
Meanwhile, (as I'm writing this), some businesses are being reopened as the lockdown has been eased. I'm glad that our office has reopened too. Now I cycle to my office every morning—as I did it before the lockdown—and return home in the afternoon. Now I have good appetites, sleep well and no longer feel dizziness.
There is some bad news for Golaghat too. There have never been so many cases of COVID-19 in Golaghat during the first and second lockdown. However, as soon as the workers from other states started returning home, the number of new cases has been increased manifold. As on 30 May, more than 150 cases of COVID-19 has been recorded in Golaghat. On the other hand, the number of cases in all over Assam has been crossed the hundreds.
According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus "may never go away"—even if a vaccine is found. Human beings have to learn to live with SARS-CoV-2 like they have learned to live with many other deadly diseases—AIDS, Rubella, Malaria, Cancer, Tuberculosis, to name but a few. However, we should have to take all necessary measures in order not to contract with the coronavirus. By wearing mask, maintaining social distancing, washing hands with soaps and using sanitizers we can avoid this deadly virus.
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