• Sunday, Dec 04, 2022
  • Last Update : 09:54 am

OP-ED: Lockdown schmockdown

  • Published at 11:05 pm June 27th, 2021
A notice in a residential area in Dhaka MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

What does the upcoming shutdown have in store for us?

On Thursday, there were talks of a strict shutdown. Then, it turned out to be a typical lockdown -- with the RMG workers suffering en masse, and the garments owners, aka the “saviours” of this country, sitting on their fat stacks of money.

Then, things took an even wilder turn, with offices around the country declaring themselves as emergency services and bypassing restrictions. Remember how different people were treated based on the vehicles they were in during the last lockdown? Get ready to see more pathetic and ironic images getting shared on social media. 

Still, plans for the next lockdown are underway, and all things considered, if everything can be kept under wraps strictly for a week, all of us should be better off -- theoretically speaking. I say theoretically because, while we have to stop our lives due to the variables that surround us, the variables and largely the world itself will not stop spinning.

And the people who will have a relative amount of autonomy during this period are the people who have the most stability in their lives. The fat will get fatter while the skinny get skinnier.

Even when talking from a more practical point of view, before things get all abstract and metaphysical, this point becomes painfully apparent. Those of us in the upper classes of society have been relatively better off financially, even when we have suffered other losses. 

Our families might have died, but we got to give them a proper burial, and take a couple of sick days after that. But for those on the lower sections of society, not only is seeing family members dying a part of their life even without Covid, most of the time, their life is one big circus from beginning to end.

Don’t believe me? Look up the news about a certain someone marrying a 14-year-old and getting away with it scot-free. In his own words, he has married a girl from a very poor household, but he has done nothing wrong by doing so. And there is ethical consumption under capitalism.

Now, let’s look at the more abstract part of this article. We have to stop our whole lives. No matter what we had planned, or what we were supposed to do, everything has to come to a stop for the “greater good.”

“But I had plans to apply abroad!”

“No, the greater good.”

“But I have this thing that I need to finish no matter what!”

“No, the greater good.”

“I might be running out of time!”

“No, the greater effing good!”

Our movement in the world has stopped, but the world around us hasn’t. And no one can stop the flow of time.

Consider two families. Both families have older members within their ranks, and both families have opted for the sensible option and isolated themselves within their homes. But due to the inherent nature of fate and control and fairness and justice being punchlines in an unfair world -- imagine that one of the families loses a member, even when they have followed everything to the letter.

One day, the virus goes away and everything goes back to normal. But even though they have played a part in our collective survival, their loss can never be remedied. Tell me, how can things make sense to them then? What do they do?

In the grand scheme of things, there is a need to adapt. That is how we managed to survive so far, and in certain cases, even thrived. But because our ability to adapt was put on hold, things have gotten far more precarious.

But wait, there’s more. Supposedly, there will be a soft lockdown from Monday, and a strict one from Thursday. And if you think that the powers that be did not have a hand in this, then you clearly haven’t been paying attention.

I used to worry about climate change, the political instability, the multiple wars and genocides, and all the other things that are taking place across the world. And frankly, I still do. But given all that is happening, and given the very nature of our reality, maybe that isn’t a bad way to go. 

Face it everyone, the game was rigged from the start. 

Then again, even in an apocalyptic scenario, we will go first, while the rich will live in paradise inside their personal bunkers. They might perish too, but they might not either. Even in death, they will go out on their own terms. 

Then again, we wouldn’t have to worry about that. There would be no past, and there would be no future. In ashes to ashes, we would finally be at peace.

As Hideaki Anno said, “Death may be the only absolute freedom there is.”

Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and an intern at the Dhaka Tribune.

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