National lockdown begins

Manu S. (@s_manu6314) writes today’s diary entry—

Today is a Hindu festival. It is the new year for us. The markets are closed and the roads are empty. There is no happy moment in the festival at my home—nor outside. It looks dull everywhere. The roads are empty and there is pin-drop silence. I can only hear birds chirping and sandy winds blowing.

My family is either before the television all day long or busy preparing new dishes in the kitchen. I can go to the grocer’s, which is right in front of my house, but no further. Towards the main road there are policemen charging at people not observing quarantine. I do not want to face the police even though I am interested to see how the rest of the city looks right now. It feels like a scene out of Hollywood when aliens are attacking one of our cities.

Personally, it has become a nightmare for me. When I feel like rubbing my eyes or itching my nose I start to doubt if I might have caught the virus. I am even afraid of touching newspapers and milk packets. Sometimes when I cough or sneeze I have even more doubts about my health, especially because it takes 14 days for symptoms to show. Most of my day I keep wondering then if I have perhaps caught this disease or not.

Today was a pretty silent day. It was the first day of quarantine and I managed to read a lot (Milan Kundera’s The unbearable lightness of being), started an Instagram story series recording my daily quarantine activities, and … well, stayed at home the entire 24 hours.

People elsewhere went about in their usual way: flooding the markets with no sense of the threat they face in the form of the novel coronavirus. Some states are to blame, Andhra Pradesh for example, as they have allowed grocers to be open for just three hours (6–9 am). It is no wonder then that people flock in search of supplies. In several places, thankfully, people had cues to help them observe social distancing: chalk likes and circles indicated where individuals should stand. A cop was present as a little motivation for people to do the right thing. I am positive, at this moment anyway, that we will get it right even if it takes the rest of this week.

That said, the other problem seems to be the cops themselves. Perhaps owning to insufficient clarity in their internal memos, police officers across the country have been sadistically beating grocery and food delivery agents disrupting the promise the Centre made about essential services remaining undisrupted. It apparently led to online grocers and delivery companies having to throw away a sorrowful 15,000 litres of milk and 10,000 kilograms of vegetables.

As the day winds to an end two things are clear: individuals and states will realise a lot about themselves and each other. This virus promises to be mankind’s pause, and life will never be the same after this. Even if it will only eventually be changed by nothing more than a tiny bit, it is clear life will be changed.