A puzzle of pandemic proportions
   Date :04-Nov-2020

A puzzle of pandemic prop
By Biraj Dixit :
Great literature has almost always gently travelled through the times. It is timeless in the wisdom it imparts and also the delight it grants. It is the fountain of youth. It is evergreen, prodigious and productive. No wonder then, that a couple of lines written some five centuries ago are the one that best describe my situation today! “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
 Just like that  
That was the question, that is the question and I am afraid that will be The Question for which there is no answer. This dilemma, this perplexity, this confusion seems to be the hallmark of my life. And though not a day goes by without this recurring puzzle, it presently is wrecking a never-before havoc upon me. Situation is usual though never simple. And my response- age-old. There is, however, an added clause. You see, Diwali is around the corner and I need to embark upon the annual ritual of cleaning the house at the earliest. As always, the first steps are the hardest as one keeps dabbling with ‘to be or not to be’. Yet every year my house gets its desired and recommended cleaning. But it is a lot of work as you all would already know. It is like revisiting your own house. It is like re-introducing yourself to long-forgotten corners – some barren, some overpopulated.
It may also involve reacquainting with things that you believed to have been lost in eternity and then introducing those to their ‘look-alikes’. It is like again coming face-to-face with things bought in anticipation of putting it to use and again putting it away for the never-to-come next time. It is like looking at a huge gigantic chaotic universe that got created by you in course of life and the task at hand is to rearrange it in proper order. Oh, it is a hell lot of work! And then you have not created just a universe of one room. You have created rooms. The more the merrier you thought! But now all these Gargantuans are demanding my active role in establishing order in my universe.
I do not know if it is a mere coincidence or some divine indication, but while I am still cold-feet about entering or not into these blackholes, someone in the neighbourhood is listening to Ghulam Ali singing ‘….na muzse ban saka chhota sa ghar din raat rota hu, Khudaya tune kaise ye jahan saara bana daala…?!’ My neighbour must already be in the sink hole of cleaning the house, I suppose. The ghazal is making my feet grow colder. It is indeed like re-creating a universe and I am no GOD! Well! The clause I was taking about is of course the pandemic. While it has put a pause on so many of our activities, it can as well put a pause on my cleaning.
The logic is simple – in view of the pandemic no near or dear ones are likely to visit us. Besides, the doctors have asked us to keep away from all things that are adverse to good health and long hours of cleaning is definitely not good for health. These are good enough reasons to tilt my decision in favour of ‘not-to-be’, but then one good look around the neighbourhood and you know it would not do. People, women in particular, have this nasty habit of doing thing right come what may. Come Diwali and most of those who are damsels-in-distress now will ride triumphantly themselves wearing a shining armour and inundate me with stories of their courage of conviction.
Some wiseman of the yore had said that women are women’s greatest enemies. Come Diwali and the ladies seem hell bent on proving the old man right. So, the dilemma Part 2 is ‘to compete or not?’ Lost in indecision, I decided to seek guidance from the master of the house. Though he has no old record of reading my ‘indecisions’ right, I am a woman of enormous hope. My husband, true to his character (of never coming to wife’s aid) reminds me that people may or may not visit but on the Diwali Day, Goddess Laxmi, does visit homes of devotees who pray in all earnest.
Petty things like coronavirus can hardly deter Her. So, clean our home must be. Period. (I have now understood that the word spouse is actually a derivative of word ‘spice’. You open your wounds to them and there they are to rub them on it!) So, it is decided, I am to pass through all the corners of my Gargantuan and illuminate all its black holes. Imagine! I know hard work does not usually kill. But looking at the colossal task at hand, I am sure I will be its first victim. n