Kashmir’s Social Animals and Covid-19 

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Riyaz Kazmi

ON a rainy night in the fifth month of this fateful year, I experienced horror. The windows I used to open to steal a sight of the skies and hear the morning giggles of my neighbours was hostile. I couldn’t keep my heart from listening to the haunting silence interjected by spontaneous wailing from my mourning neighbours. It is then that I could mentally picture Covid-19 knocking every door.

The pain of families who witnessed strange deaths of their loved ones by what appeared to be a common flu is unsettling. The realisations should ideally suffice for us to take precautions. Unfortunately, that has not been the case here. Through the eyes of someone who would have undergone the horrors of this disease, our recreational activities tantamount to dancing on the pit of death.

What have we given up for the sake of precautions? We’ve continued with our business of barbecue parties on boulevard. We climb over the shoulders of one another at the groceries, pharmacies, and chicken and meat shops to shout and vouch for our turn .Even sports can’t wait. Young people throng playgrounds and throw caution to the wind.

Our culture of socialising have compromised everyone’s safety. We still hunch over on the shop fronts (Waneh Pyaend) to gossip and discuss the politics around us and the obvious failures of administrators. Our sense of entitlement has even validated us attacking our frontline workers and blaming them for what actually is an institutional failure to provide good healthcare. With the same face we doll up to attend wedding parties without any care or caution. Our mubarakbaadis in person can be postponed but we’ve stooped so low on wits as a community that even a pandemic cannot get us to question our ways.

With each passing day the caseload is exploding with a whooping increase in deaths. Our hospitals are under-equipped and overburdened. We do not even have a decent healthcare infrastructure and manpower to handle the pressure of Covid-19 emergencies.

In a place like Kashmir, everyone is a frontline worker right now. We need to realise that our precautions are going to aid someone else. Beat yourself up, if you need to, for not following protocols because the only way to survive this pandemic is to wear a mask, maintain personal hygiene, self-care, self-discipline, and social distancing.

If we don’t wear mask or simply put it on a chin to fool around; we are inviting trouble and digging graves not only for ourselves but for others as well. When you flout SOPs, remember that carelessness is going to cost you and yours before anyone else.

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