Imagine you are the lead character in a game of “Dungeons and Snipers.” A game where you must surpass many different levels as you roam the world to collect treasure and earn points.
You begin with three lives on hand.
On your exciting adventure, you scale the peaks of rugged mountains, dive deep into abysmal oceans and explore dense jungles infested with dangerous beasts to find diamonds, rubies, emeralds and pearls. You lose two lives in the process. Once, when you fall off the treacherous slope of the highest peak and another time, while battling a five-headed fire breathing monster in the jungle. What a bummer!
But you rally on… and manage to gather all the jewels and score points. Well played! You are now in the penultimate level and have to find your way through a mystifying maze of tunnels. You do. But the tunnel leads into a dungeon and you find yourself holed in with all this amassed preciousness and one life to spare.
Now, there is but one hurdle in between you and a win – a vast desert outside that has to be crossed. You are free to leave the dungeon anytime but at the risk of being shot down as the desert is teaming with deadly snipers. They are impossible to avoid, and they never miss their mark. Such a waste of your efforts if they get to you.
Hold on! You just find out that there is another way out. You can hide and wait it out. If the snipers don’t spot you for a period of time, they will disappear. You will lose all points if you choose to do this but at least you can cross the expanse of barren land with your collected treasure once the field is clear. What would you do?
Would you rather lose points or give up your life?
At this moment, isn’t this the predicament all of mankind finds itself in? A majority of us are living in lockdown conditions isolated from the rest of the world. We’ve navigated through life’s many ups and downs to reach here. Except we are nestled within the four walls of our homes, not dungeons, and with the people who matter to us, our treasure. We have, in the game of life, chosen to wait it out. To save not just ourselves but others too. Yet, there are many to whom the lockdown feels akin to being in a dungeon. They choose to take a risk and step out. We are at war, yet they refuse to follow the norms of social distancing. They would rather give up their lives.
Yesterday, I left the safe confines of my neighborhood for the first time in three weeks. Before leaving, I had wondered if it would be surreal to drive down empty roads, pass by malls that were just empty shells, whether I would find myself in the remains of a city once alive. Would I feel just like Old Man Brooks did in ‘Shawshank Redemption’ when he struggled to adjust to a life outside prison, after having spent most of his adult life in jail? Maybe, I was being dramatic, but the point is I wondered how strange it would be to venture out into a transformed world.
To my astonishment though, the roads were busy, soccer fields were filled with players and groups of people chatted – not six feet away from each other but closer – while their dogs frolicked. Nothing much had changed. It hurt. Was this fair to those who had put their lives on hold and to my dear ones on the frontline, who were putting their lives and the lives of their families at risk for the likes of those who did not care?
This virus is deadlier than any sniper. It doesn’t care if you are black or brown, rich or poor, an atheist or a person of faith. It just kills. Yet, some falter and choose not to stay home. Maybe, because it is hard for the human mind to fathom an invisible enemy. What if for a minute, we imagine that the virus has magnified itself a hundredfold, put on a black hooded suit? What if it holds an armed rifle in each hand and shoots on sight? Would people still be on the soccer field? I think not.
In the words of Gordon Brown, the ex-Prime Minister of UK, “This is not the time to say I’m doing all I can but to say we will do everything that it takes to beat this thing.” Each and every one us has to do our part to overcome the pandemic. As a meme that went viral reads, “This is the one chance you have to stay at home, watch TV and still be a superhero. Don’t mess up!”
Dedicated to all the workers on the frontlines.