For the second time in a row, this Eid is also to be passed without handshakes and embraces with many near and dear ones. In fact, the fear and danger of coronavirus has become so ingrained in our environment that many people feel hesitant to even go near others, let alone shake hands and open up arms for embracing. This is not applicable to Eid only. Same is the case with all other contemporary festivals irrespective of religious affiliations. National festivals are also not exceptions. Events without festivity and joy have become the order of the day for more than a year now.
The government decided to relax lockdown from 6 May. As a result, mass transports are running within the districts. Though the people involved in inter-district transports are still in problem, relaxation inside the districts has been a good tiding for the concerned people who suffered badly for around 3 weeks. The government thus deserves appreciation for taking into consideration the crucial issue of livelihood along with life. In previous columns, the author also urged the government to be considerate. This is not to imply that the government listened to the author.In fact, the government felt the public pulse and acted accordingly. Fortunately for the countrymen and thankfully to the almighty, coronavirus infections seem to have come down slightly. Lockdown for around 3 weeks must have had a role in this reduction. Though inter-district lockdown was particularly painful for the related people, there was, in fact, no alternative to it for breaking the chain of dangerous variants of coronavirus. In fact, along with the stated people, people of many other professions were in great distress during the lockdown. Hopefully, the current relaxation will provide them with some breathing space.
The government relaxed the lockdown with a view to making room for distressed people so that they can earn something and move around for the same. However, crowding of well-off people in markets for Eid shopping and, that too, with little compliance with health protocols has really been a matter of great regret. As shops have been opened, people are supposed to go to shopping centres and malls. Otherwise, the shops will get no customers for their businesses. However, the craze and unusual mob in various markets looked really odd and reckless.
It was expected that people of all walks of life, especially the affluent ones, would remain particularly alert during Eid shopping this time. The expectation was pertinent and robust in view of the coronavirus deluge in our neighborhood. However, the way people stood in long queues to get into the shopping malls must have created a false impression that coronavirus has already become history. Such sort of nonchalance and irresponsibility are just unacceptable. Such a penchant for going to markets defying health protocols might even turn out to be fatal.
Many even feared that such gatherings may have become breeding centres of coronavirus. However, the impact is likely to be felt in the days to come. In passing, the government’s decision to restrict people inside their current areas is indeed a good one so as to ensure that the virus cannot transmit to various regions. The government is, however, urged to provide succor to the affected people, especially the transport workers. Despite the restrictions, however, many people are desperate to move beyond their current cities. By doing so, they are only asking for troubles for themselves, their families and the society.
For many businessmen in the country, the time before various festivals is opportune moments for doing business and reaping great profits. Eid is, in fact, the greatest such opportunity for the businesses involved in garments items, fabrics and so on. Such businesses were in great crisis during the Eid of 2020. Though they are unlikely to be able to make up for their losses in2020, the current relaxation is expected to provide them with the wherewithal for their sustenance. However, some buyers are bringing concern for them by being callous about health rules.
Even a number of shopping malls have reportedly been shut down following non-compliance of health protocols, and very rightly so. Millions of people of the country stay in cities and towns for livelihood. They usually wait for Eids and such other vacations to rush to their homesteads and pass their sweet times with families and kith and kins. Many of them were deprived of such an opportunity during 2020. Same fate awaits them during 2021 as well. In fact, the government cannot ease up things more for them considering the infection ability of the deadly virus that has literally crippled the whole world.To be candid, many things have to be sacrificed and forsaken at times of crises. For months together, thus, normalcy in our life and lifestyle is gone. New normal realities have overshadowed normal ways and rites. Masks have covered our faces in such a manner that it is difficult to even recognize some people at times. At times, it seems that the masks will become permanent attires for humans. If it becomes so, it will be a great misfortune. People’s distaste for wearing masks all over the world is a testimony to the fact that people are already fed up with it. And, there have been big processions against masks in the western world.
Eids and festivals are occasions to celebrate and enjoy. Such celebrations get life if they can be celebrated together with many others. However, corona-induced isolation and segregation have brought melancholy in the mood of such festivals. This prolonged glum and malaise proving to be tedious and heavy going. Even survival for many has become strenuous. Consequently, a sense of desperation is prevailing all over the place. However, caution cannot be compromised. Alarmingly, Indian variant of COVID-19 has already been detected. To make future festivals amusing, we must observe utmost patience. By the grace of Almighty, hale and healthy days will resurface again. For now, however, Eid Mubarak to all and sundry.
The writer is a Professor, Department of Public Administration and Chancellor’s Nominee Syndicate Member, University of Chittagong. Email: