When you overestimate the intelligence of people, and you ask something of them which they misconstrue, you can have a catastrophe on your hands. Literally. After the Prime Minister’s speech, wherein he asked people to stand in their windows and balconies, and applaud the working communities of medical, public service personnel, people received a very different message.
At five o’clock, on 22nd March, in many areas of the country, people came out in crowds, banging on vessels and sometimes their own heads. Social distancing – the need of the hour – was completely forgotten. Some of my acquaintances, on Instagram, even believed that after the “Janta Curfew”, Covid-19 had been defeated! I had a couple of arguments on this issue, saying that eradicating the virus, after a 12-hour break from public life, was certainly impossible. Then, when it all fell on deaf ears, I gave up.
The point of this article are my kids. Zach is now seven years old. A beautiful brindle boxer who loves going down and playing with his toys. Xena is now six years old, a flashy fawn. She loves playing and taking away toys from Zach. My family and I make sure they are taken down, four times a day. However, now because of the quarantine disregard, things are going under curfew. My family and I respect the need of the hour. However, that being said, how do I explain this to Zach and Xena, my kids?
When you have human children, you can ask, cajole, bargain and explain. How do I do this with Zach and Xena? Early last year, I would take them to the terrace of my building to get them some exercise. However, there are certain people in my society, as I am well-aware there are out there in the world, who do not take kindly to animals. They look down upon people who keep them as family and they think animals are meant only in forests, cages or on plates. So, a complaint was shot down to the secretary and he banned us from taking the kids to the terrace.
At this point, I must strongly interject that Zach and Xena have never defecated in the environs of any society where I have lived. They have learnt to respect their spaces and in fact, run right out of the colony compound to pee and then after they play a bit in the garden, head out for a walk when they poo. (And, yes, we pick the poo up, too – which also brings to mind, the fact that there are no dustbins provided by the BMC in our area – but that is a topic for another day.)
I know only animal lovers will understand this plight of not being able to take your kids out for walks. These walks are also not for play time but for their basic requirements to relieve themselves. We are incredibly understanding of children incapable of understanding restrictions. Why do we not extend – if not the same – an adequate level of understanding for animals at home? Most of us, turn away at the sight of animal abuse. A man boiling a dog alive for food is revolting. A man tying a cow down and beating her head in with a gas cylinder is filmed too. Cruelty exists. But aren’t other human beings capable of showing empathy? We scroll away from such videos. We report them. We choose to be vegan. Can we also not help those people who have pets at home?
Maybe by just letting us take the kids up to the terrace for a breath of open air. I won’t be taking them to a party, or even with more family members. They can run around for a bit with me on the terrace and then I can bring them down. I can wear my mask, practice my own social distancing, and take them down for a short walk so they can do what is needful. But this cannot be done without more people understanding this. I know they won’t because people don’t trust other people to do what is right. I also understand this, because I have seen how hordes of people descended out in public places, just yesterday, at 5pm, to bang their heads, completely negating protocol measures. So, where does this leave my kids?
When I was raising them, they were both trained to use the loo. Xena would use it without a problem. She still uses the loo to pee, sometimes during the winter. But Zach refuses to do so. He being a gentleman, prefers going out. He cannot raise his leg in the bathroom. And to date, since he was two months old, has never used the loo to defecate. He looks at me almost to say, I don’t ask you to squat down in the garden to poo, why are you asking me to squat in your bathroom?
I know a lot of people will tell me that, once he really needs to really go, he will.
He probably will learn to use the loo, before many human beings out there learn that staying at home for 14 hours won’t annihilate Covid-19.