Don’t talk to strangers is what parents used to teach their little ones in the past, but now in the midst of the pandemic it is, “Don’t go near strangers.”
After taking a walk it was pleasant to sit on a little grass mount thanks to Muscat Municipality’s beautified dedicated pathways for walking. It was perfect to do a bit of breathing exercises and was comforting to watch the mynahs walk with such confidence pecking on the grass least bothered about who is walking around or exercising.
Just then a young family came with three young children who probably have not started schooling yet. The parents tried to engage them by playing with a ball. The little girl looked on while one child enthusiastically kicked back the ball, his brother looked straight at the mount and walked towards me. The parents called him back but he was in no mood to return as he wanted to check out the stranger on the mount. The parents made noises but the child kept coming forward and I froze but managed to nod a ‘hi’ from behind the mask to his knowing smile. The parents pulled him away. Then again I thought it was enough of relaxation and got up to walk away and as I stood up and turned to the right there he was again on the little mount with me with the same understanding smile with twinkling eyes. The father tried to grab him away. And I thought to myself, “What should children make of all this?”
Not once did the parents of the friendly child give an eye contact to the stranger on the mount. The impact of the pandemic is much more than we realise. The fear has the power to remove all the social skills. We might be going through a complete evolution of social skills. And what children are experiencing currently and being taught can have lasting impressions. This is one of the reasons why schools have been so important in the upbringing of the children especially when practically there is no more the goodness of joint family system.
We cannot blame anyone as that is how the nature of the pandemic has been. We need to maintain the social distance but the real young ones still have the human qualities intact and being social is a basic human instinct. But it would be important to observe closely on our changes in behaviour.
We however still seemed to forget all the new protocol when we are shopping in supermarkets. If they are smaller places then one has to be cautious while opening the door. It is funny to note that it might be you who opened the door but people from the other side might be the first one to walk through. This is the case if the door is manual — could it be to avoid touching the door? That is when you have to remind them and request, “Please wait.”
While we have our dramas, the situation is different in the hospitals. The front liners — the health workers and especially the ICU doctors and nurses who are treating the patients suffering from Covid-19 are going through their own trauma. The stress from worrying about their patients is one aspect and the other is when they are back at home when their own safety looms over their head. Yet the next day they get ready to do their best to treat the patients.
And what about the patients suffering from Covid-19 and recovering? We talk about the number of cases but not really thinking about what they are going through. A few people who are on the recovery have been in touch thanks to phones. Emotions seemed to be the major factor but also energy. Two people whom I know who are in different countries talked about food. One who cannot consume the food and the other who has lost his appetite makes us realise the importance of food intake which we take for granted. The patients who are in the hospital or in isolation at home — are they hungry? There have been families where both the husband and wife were sick and it was thanks to social workers who took it upon themselves to provide them food. There are children who lost both parents and others came forward to adopt them.
It all brings down to the question — are we as world citizens doing enough? There is one thing for sure — be a cause to break the chain by maintaining distance, avoiding gathering, wearing masks and washing hands frequently.