July 20, 2020 by Syed Wajid

I am sitting in the center of the room on a rickety old chair, with my feet on an equally rickety table. Trying to comfort myself, but at the same time resisting to move. I’m afraid of falling and also afraid if these supports get damaged. How am I going to repair them or buy new ones during these days?

During the lockdown here in Pakistan, I found out that the coolest part of the room is the center of the room under the fan and that is why I am sitting in the middle of the room in the hot (45C degrees) and humid (35%) afternoon. Phoned an architect friend of mine and asked him why the fans are fixed in the center of the room not over the bed or the sitting area? He promptly replied it is esthetically correct to have the fans in the center. I agreed with him and did not go into an argument since I am a layman and he is the specialist – a specialist who, like so many specialists, are more concerned about esthetics rather than actual human needs. The other reason for not going into an argument was that I found out that he was sitting without any fan due to a power cut. This phenomenon is very common in my part of the world. He is more worried about the food he had stored in his freezer since this time the power cut in his area was longer than expected. In addition, as we talked I was also worried about the charge in his cell phone.

My attention strays to the TV in the room. I try not to watch it these days, even though it is often on in silent mode. It constantly shows banners of breaking news to further shatter the nerves of all those who watch them. But this time I see the people on the screen laughing. Wanting some laughter for myself, I unmuted the television. It was about a recent interview with our Environment Minister. When the reporter asked her about COVID 19, she had said that the virus is called COVID 19 because it has 19 variants and that we are very lucky since the strain that we have is the mildest among all. 

In a while the laughter stopped and the nerve shattering “breaking news” started telling us that 

  • there is no space in the hospitals for those suffering from COVID 19; 
  • medical workers are protesting against shortage of medicines for COVID 19 patients and shortages of personal protective equipment for the caregivers 
  • people crowd markets without masks and physical distancing; 
  • statements from government representatives condemn the protesting health workers;
  • while another set of representatives honor the health workers who are on the frontline in fighting COVID 19, and are the ones who are infected and are dying; and
  • The head of the state says this government’s policy of fighting pandemic is the best in the world and no one has anything to worry about. 

I turned off the television and tried to feel if I was also among the ones who have been concerned about esthetics and not the actual needs. And I wonder if I will be able to take this realization beyond COVID 19.