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Continued from Previous……

In this Blogpost, I shall take up three separate topics, all connected to COVID19 of course.

One. Since yesterday, I am seeing a new phenomenon. Many men and women, some alone and some with children, are sitting on the roadside. They do not sit in clusters; they place themselves at a distance from each other. Some of them try to sit on more strategic spots. Few are carrying a paintbrush and shade card; some are carrying a shovel or a hoe or some masonry tool. Apparently, they represent the daily wagers who go out every day, hope to find work and earn some money. Current lockdown has deprived them of their livelihood. Many of them do not look like daily wages labor; women more than men. If it is really so, it is most unfortunate as they will deprive the genuine people further by wrongfully taking their right. Someone called from a well-known but not so well-reputed ‘Trust’ asking for donation for daily wagers. I asked if they had a list of deserving people; they did not have. Moral of the story is that even in the face of death, our morality has failed to rise and shine.

Two. I am quoting from a Professor Emeritus of INSEAD. As you know, INSEAD in France is a highly reputed institution for Management Education.

Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries is the Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development and Organisational Change and the Raoul de Vitry d’Avaucourt Chaired Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD.

This is from INSEAD Blog Post of 30th March titled ‘Coping with Life in Lockdown’.

[Quote] “In our highly interconnected world, is it really possible to run away from a pandemic? This is the first question I pondered after seeking refuge in my house in the remote countryside of southern France. As I was looking at the olive trees, two stories that I had read many years ago came to mind.

The first is a retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale called “Appointment in Samarra”. According to this story, a merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Soon afterwards, the servant ran in, white as a sheet. He said: “Master, just now in the marketplace, I was jostled by a woman in the crowd. When I looked closer, I realised that it was Death who made a threatening gesture towards me.”

Trembling with fear, the servant asked the merchant to let him borrow his fastest horse so he could flee to Samarra, a town more than one hundred kilometres away, where he believed Death wouldn’t be able to find him.

Sometime later, a bit annoyed but also curious, the merchant walked to the marketplace and found Death. He asked her why she had made such a threatening gesture. She replied, “It was only a sign of great surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

The second story, written by Edgar Allan Poe, is “The Masque of the Red Death”. It follows Prince Prospero’s attempt to run from a plague known as the Red Death; retiring with the nobles of his court to one of his fortified abbeys. Locking the gates behind them, he organised a masquerade ball. But, in the midst of the revelry, a new guest made his appearance at midnight. As Prospero went to confront him and the ghoulish figure showed his face, the prince let out a scream and died. One by one, the other revellers met the same fate. The mysterious stranger was, of course, the Red Death.

The moral of both tales is that no mortal, whether a servant or a prince, can escape death. These two stories found their mark when the stonemason working in my garden informed me that his colleague has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. So much for my own attempt at running away.” [Unquote]

Soul-searching is highly desirable to understand our insecurities and put those in the right place, before we are consumed by paranoia.

Professor Manfred suggests several ways to spend this time of ‘house arrest’ more meaningfully. He ends the post by saying: [Quote]

“As the caterpillar needs to transform within its cocoon before it emerges as a butterfly, likewise, such a journey of reflectivity may have a great transformative impact. And most probably, we need this capacity for change, as the world will not be the same as before, after the passing of the coronavirus. As the well-known psychiatrist Victor Frankl once said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” [Unquote]

Full Blog Post can be read here.

Three. Most of us in Pakistan are still in the state of DENIAL. Our denial is showing in several ways, some of which may be seen below.

  • Every day, when I commute back from work through Ring Road in Lahore, I see fair sized crowds on the side playing cricket. There are more adults than children.
  • We are receiving messages from multiple sources, some apparently authentic, about fruits, vegetables, seeds, honey as ‘The Remedy’ to prevent and treat Corona Virus.
  • We are receiving ‘Breaking News’ about some unknown, unqualified person, sitting in an unknown area who has discovered quick and sure treatment of Corona Virus.
  • We are receiving messages recommending a variety of ‘wazeefas’ for protection against Corona Virus.
  • We still receive messages about how Muslims will not be affected by Corona Virus despite seeing it happening right before our eyes to our brothers and sisters.

The problem is that this state of mind is preventing us from taking practical steps about this event. Corona Virus is a reality, even if it is a conspiracy to change the world into ‘Hunger Games’ like society. The steps required to check the growth and the number of affected will depend on cold analysis, logical conclusions and practical measures.

There is no doubt that the ‘World After Corona’ will be substantially different. We should consider precautions for today and preparations for tomorrow.

May Allah Show us the light, Give us the Courage, and Help us to Navigate safely. Aameen.


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