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OP-ED: The light at the end of the tunnel

  • Published at 03:03 am July 7th, 2021
Pandemic
When everyone stays at home SYED ZAKIR HOSSAIN

We may survive this pandemic, but will we survive the ensuing mental crisis?

Whenever I have been going on to social media, I have been getting wrapped in a vague sense of terror. From all the violence and suffering that this lockdown has inspired around the country, to regular human sins that have been amplified due to the very evil nature of us human beings, there has been no shortage of issues that can shake anyone’s sense of place regarding themselves and the rest of the world. 

And it seems like with each lockdown, it is only getting worse. This sense of lethargy, this sense of being stuck, it is only getting amplified with each bad wave, and I’m not only talking about my personal feelings. 

When the world was going into a lockdown for the first time last year, people were bothered by it, but not this much. Our university had closed around over a week before the official lockdown, and people spent that time catching up with friends and seeing their loved ones. Once that was done, they bid each other farewell and patiently decided for the time when they would get to see each other again. 

The lockdown lasted for a couple of months, but people weren’t that bothered with it. But at the end, they did become tired, and started leaving home of their own accord. And slowly but surely, things got back to normal, for some of us. The others weren’t as lucky. And even the privileged class had suffered the toll of the lockdown. So when things began to turn for the worst this year as well, and we braced for another lockdown, it was only natural that people would become weary. 

A lot of people still hadn’t recovered from the first lockdown. A lot of people had nothing to do because their schools were still closed. Those who have lost their businesses have been pretty much forgotten. But when people tried to stand up and move forward again, we were slapped with a new nightmare. And this is where we are now.

A year ago, I would have been a staunch supporter of a lockdown. And while I do support it in principle, I don’t think it is feasible or practical. Even someone like me -- with my work from home and online classes -- has lagged behind my goals and targets for this year. And when it comes to the millions of people who live hand to mouth (I’m sure the circus that has gone on for the last couple of years should be proof enough of what I am talking about), they have it much, much worse. 

It is human nature to live in community. It is human penance to strive for success. No matter how much we are told that we need to survive first, if we give up everything for a sub-par existence, that is nothing but antithetical to our existence. 

We may survive this lockdown. We may survive this pandemic. But if we are stopped in our tracks routinely like this, the resulting mental crisis pandemic that is going to grab hold of us will be unprecedented. And for people who lost the means of their livelihood, well, I still have nightmares about that farmer who set himself ablaze.

I know that we are a poor nation. I know we made some bad calls with our vaccines. But judging by how the top echelons of society live and are still living, I don’t think that we are that poor. I do think that the government needs to vaccinate the population within the year, because otherwise, there will be people who will be stuck in a rut like this where lockdowns come and go, and every breath we take will be a countdown until the next imprisonment. 

If we don’t, well, if someone is stuck in the dark for long enough, one may even forget that there was a light in the first place. 

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

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