Follow the leader

Updated: Apr 19, 2020, 07:29 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

As a good Indian citizen, I have been trained not to think too much for myself. Just tell me what to do, and it will be followed, dutifully

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaI was bitterly disappointed last Tuesday, felt betrayed. Let me explain myself, dear reader, flashback a bit.

As a good Indian citizen, I have been trained not to think too much for myself. Just tell me what to do, and it will be followed, dutifully.

See, during this Coronavirus period, who needs one's leader to come on TV daily and painstakingly give me a heads-up on the progress the government is making in tackling the virus—how many dead, how many infected etc—as the New Zealand PM, with her health minister, does every day.

I just want to go to my balcony, look out of my window and perform activities that my leader tells me to. Simple, clear instructions, no bad news, no statistics to figure, just meaningful actions. Four weeks ago, we were urged to find two steel utensils and thump them together for dear life. Cynics called it a gimmick, not me. I trained for this activity in my home-made gym, working furiously on the arms, biceps, triceps and forearms, 20 repetitions with dumbbells, so that when the day and time came, March 22, 5 pm to be specific, I was ready, like Rambo.

And then, D-Day came. For 10 minutes, non-stop, our city hit such a decibel level, the Mumbai chapter of the Coronavirus considered leaving en masse. They made a Zoom call to their boss in Wuhan, and complained, "Imagine 36 million thaalis being struck simultaneously. It was damn frightening sir. More terrifying than any vaccine."

Then came the second instruction. On Sunday, April 5, we were asked to light diyas, or candles, for nine minutes at 9 pm. It didn't matter, what the significance was. I was being asked by my leader to perform an action and I wanted to obey.

Just light a candle, shine a light, all your troubles will be over. Who cared about being cooped up at home, or a decimated economy? All that was relevant was that a candle/torch/diya was to be lit.

For nine minutes, in Mumbai, it looked like we had an early Diwali.

So, you can understand, that I prepared myself for the next TV announcement, the PM would return to give us our next mass instruction.

I obsessed over trying to guess. May be the plan was to explore each of the five senses. First was sound, next was sight, would this third one have something to do with touch, taste or smell?

Would I have to recite a verse standing on my head? Something nonsensically exciting.

So, to return to my disappointment. Tuesday, April 14 morning arrived. I was ready, dear reader. Ready to follow his instructions.

And he spoke and spoke, and he ended with no task for me to perform.

Apparently, the lockdown ends May 3. I am crestfallen, no more announcements, no more activities. I will wait patiently for August 15, when hopefully we will be asked to perform a duty. Any ideas, dear reader?

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at

Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and a complete guide from food to things to do and events across Mumbai. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates.

Mid-Day is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@middayinfomedialtd) and stay updated with the latest news

Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK