I live in a crowded town which is also a political hotbed, right in between 2 major tourist and commercial cities of India. The sounds of horns, chatter and hurried commotion have been the constant backdrop for life over here.
But all that changed overnight.
While the whole country was hoping that it wouldn’t get worse, it did. On the 25th of March, at 8 PM IST, our leader announced a complete shutdown for 21 days, starting that midnight; no warning, no time to prepare.
I don’t go out much these days, because of the amount of work I do and the lack of things to do in this town, but on the 26th evening, I did venture out for a walk (with my FFP3 mask and gloves, of course).
While I walked down one of the busiest roads, which would usually be filled with lawyers, bureaucrats, and policemen, I experienced what I thought I never would. The noise, horns and audible presence of humanity were replaced with the sound of nature. All I could hear was the distant chirping of birds, the buzzing of bees, a few squirrels fighting over food and the sound of leaves brushing against each other. It was unlike anything I’d experienced in this crowded town, ever. A mat of yellow Tabebuia flowers covered the road, and an eerie feeling of being alone started to creep in. I reached the main highway, which is one of the busiest in our country, only to find it empty and quiet.
It had turned into a ghost town.
People are afraid to come out, half of them are worried about getting beat up by the cops, and the rest are worried for their lives.
The evenings are quiet, almost like a spooky set from a movie. The thought of running out of supplies lingers around me, then I catch myself wondering if it’ll all get worse.
I worry for the pregnant woman who expects for her water to break any moment, for that old diabetic man who needs his insulin shots, or the child who needs to get that next Chemo session; I worry for that daily laborer with 5 mouths to feed, the student stuck 1000 miles away from home, and for her parents who anxiously wonder if she has eaten yet. I worry for that woman who just retired this year and wanted to spend the next chapter of her life in peace, only to be tested positive for COVID-19.
I worry for others too, and that is exactly what it feels like to be under lockdown. It’s worrying, harrowing and horrifying.