#TheNewAbnormal

Updated: 20 September, 2020 07:21 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

Buildings were being sealed off, patients quarantined for 14-day periods, the pandemic was well and truly entrenched

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaAnd so, we're six months into it now—call it what you will: lockdown, confinement, working from home, "stepping out only for groceries and essentials". We've moved from March's, "this will all be over soon", to now in September—a dystopian present that seems to have no end.

Very early on, when the virus first invaded our border, from China, COVID-19 was "some odd-sounding bacteria" that would transit through our fair land, only to head onwards and self-destruct somewhere else. "Haan haan. It's one of those SARS, EBOLA thingys. No biggie," we joked. Quips about the Coronavirus kept social media fully engaged.

Famous last words, as people started falling ill, every day numbers in Mumbai spiked uncontrollably.

Buildings were being sealed off, patients quarantined for 14-day periods, the pandemic was well and truly entrenched.

Most men soon realised that WFH (Working From Home) actually was WFM (Working for the Missus). Any hopes they had of spending the whole day checking out the share market, soon dissolved into sharing the housework.

Those were heady days, as "Lockdown" got abbreviated to LC (Let's Chill). Everyone took that well earned staycation, with paid leave. This soon morphed to half-paid leave, to "sorry bro you have to leave".

Parents with children had to figure a system of KIDS—Keep the Idiots Doing Something.

And teenagers coined PUP (putting up with parents), six months later, climbing the walls with frustration, it became, PWT (patience wearing thin).

And EDM was "Educating Dad Mom" on various millennial gizmos.

But, even two months in, there were optimistic expiry dates on this… "Ya ya, take it from me, two months max", "I'll give it to you in writing, we'll be back at our desks in no time, another month."

People began talking, flippantly, of a "new normal". #NewNormal got itself a new hashtag, lists were made on what this new phase would entail. The virus and us were still on a honeymoon period with this. Six months later, that honeymoon period is over and the bad marriage has begun. "We can write this year off," people reasoned. "Things will really open up in 2021."

When "things open up again", seemed to have a totally open-ended feel to it. But here's where it gets a tad hairy. Half a year has gone, and the same questions we had in March remain, unanswered. What exactly is this virus? Can you test positive twice? Does the virus lodge itself in you like an unwanted tenant? Why is there no vaccine yet? How can so many people get it if it's really only transmitted orally and masks are on? Does six-feet distancing really work?

It's like we're the guinea pigs to answer these queries. As much as we'll be the guinea pigs to test the cure.

One thing's for sure—there will be a BC (Before COVID) and an AV (After Vaccine).

COVID has changed the face of how we look at life.

No pun intended.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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First Published: 20 September, 2020 07:05 IST

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