Applaud, but we need action, too

Updated: 23 March, 2020 07:47 IST | Fiona Fernandez | Mumbai

As the city gears for a complete lockdown, our sutradhars wish to see a solid plan put into force to safeguard everyone in this city and country

The Gateway of India in South Mumbai wears a deserted look. Pic: Suresh KK
The Gateway of India in South Mumbai wears a deserted look. Pic: Suresh KK

Fiona Fernandez"I can see that you have paid heed to my concern with the protective mask. Good for you, Pheroze. Hope the missus is also safe," Lady Flora looked pleased that her persistence paid off. 'It always does,' she told herself. With the complete lockdown in Bombay, both friends had agreed to end their nighttime strolls around Fort and Colaba. Hence, for one last time, they decided to simply meet for some 'gupshup' at their favourite spot – the Horniman Circle Garden.

Sir PM couldn't help but notice that his friend was carrying a stunning porcelain tray. Despite poor visibility, it looked like a gorgeous piece. "Er…Lady, I see that you are holding on to some beautiful kitchenware. Is it something that you wish to show me?" he asked, hesitantly. "Oh, you noticed," she smiled, adding quickly, "Haven't you heard? We just had a session earlier today, where the public was encouraged by the nation's Prime Minister to salute all those who have been helping the country get through this horrible pandemic. People were asked to come out in their balconies to clap, bang on plates and pans for them. Sadly, I don't own any such Indian-made utensils but only Portland-made porcelain and ceramic ware. Of course, I must add that I did get a lot of comments for this priceless heirloom that belonged to my maternal grandmother. And, may I confess, Pheroze…well, I didn't actually bang it. What if it broke?"

Her friend was silently amused at her intent and applauded her level of enthusiasm. Sir PM had also done his bit. He was near his vantage point by Victoria terminus, as trains halted and joined in the salute with the blaring of horns in unison. "I saw some pretty rare scenes, Lady. To witness an emptied out terminus was a reminder of how the city is taking this seriously. I am glad."

Both friends knew that the days ahead would be a different ballgame altogether what with the lockdown called till March 31. "Now that we've thanked all the people who are helping India fight this virus, I'd like to see more initiative and support from the state and central governments, including from an economic standpoint. Our daily wage workers and street vendors are suffering; many have had to rush back to their hometowns fearing their inability to sustain themselves in Bombay," Sir PM argued. "You're absolutely right. We should learn lessons from Italy that is facing a surge in numbers because of a delay in testing, and from countries like France, where our friend Viegas tells me, the government is offering sops and economic support across income groups. Yes, our economy has already been facing a steep challenge but this is a question of saving lives. I do hope we also hear some reassuring news soon enough to protect people so they don't panic when it comes to thinking of their future, apart from of course, being safe during this lockdown," Lady Flora explained.

"Singapore and South Korea's populations, I am told, were also very disciplined. It played a huge role in keeping the spread under check. Our government should take lessons from there, quickly and smartly," sighed Lady. She was clearly worried. "We've shown our intent as a country; now it's only up to us to be serious about this," summed up Sir PM, echoing what was going on in his friend's mind.

Both said their farewells and promised to stay in touch with a little help from good old Percy, the pigeon, who agreed to play messenger during this inexplicable time.

mid-day's Features Editor Fiona Fernandez relishes the city's sights, sounds, smells and stones...wherever the ink and the inclination takes her. She tweets @bombayana
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First Published: 23 March, 2020 06:47 IST

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