Once upon a time, a deadly virus swept through the land. It sneaked up on everyone. No one could really understand it. It initially behaved like the common illness of the season, which people had always recovered from naturally, but then it turned deadly all of a sudden and began to ravage people in large numbers. It quickly divided the people into two groups: those who were infected and those who were affected.
Those who were infected went through the most gruesome experiences. Most of them recovered though, but many died. It was painful to watch. Those who recovered came to appreciate life a lot more. And people hoped that those who died went to a better place.
For those who were only affected, life, as they knew it, took a drastic turn. Their jobs and sources of livelihood vanished. Their financial markets and sources of wealth crashed. Their governments and sources of security failed them. Their friends and sources of succour kept away from them. It wasn’t a fun time to be alive. Even the places of fun and entertainment were shut down. They were left to themselves. For the first time, many couples had time for each other without external distractions. There was domestic violence, there were divorces. Without the outside world in their way, many discovered that they didn’t really know who they were, much less each other.
They found out the vulnerability of the things they had come to rely on: their health, their wealth, the economy, their jobs, their governments, their relationships and even their marriages. These were the things they had built their lives around and found their security in. Without these things firmly in place anymore, it was hard to know who they really were.
They found out those who cared about only themselves and couldn’t care less about others. The toilet paper hoarders, the leaders who failed to address them, the companies who still forced their employees into risky exposures, the regions that massaged their number of cases and allowed their inhabitants to go on about infecting others. They lied and people died.
They found out the actual powerlessness of those who boast of knowing much about disease control and organizing the world’s health. The apparent obtuseness of leading virologists, whose only solution was to shut everything down with no word about how to kill the virus. The ineffectiveness of politicians who loved the attention of the lights, cameras and microphones but really had nothing meaningful to say. The sensationalism of the news media who downplayed any prospect of a cure just to keep up the frenzy that glued concerned eyeballs to their channels.
The virus became a lens, a magnifying glass through which everyone began to see the cracks and brokenness in their society and the fragility of their so-called establishments. Something had to be done when this was all over. The land had to be healed.
The people began to learn what was more important. They learned to take each day as it came, because no one knew what tomorrow would bring. No one wanted to think that far ahead in a crisis either. The idea of ‘living in the moment’, which had been bandied around before, didn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. They learned to appreciate those around them; their families, their neighbours, their friends, their children, their spouses. They developed deeper friendships with their spouses. They just had to, if only to stay sane.
Soon, the virus subsided and eventually vanished from the land. People were initially hesitant to leave their homes. But after a while, they began venturing out slowly. Everyone was friendly on the streets. They had missed talking to strangers. They shouted pleasantries at each other and declared every day “a beautiful day”.
It was beautiful to watch. They turned off distractions. They went off social media. In fact, the media companies went on a fifteen-day hiatus. Fifteen days of online darkness and offline light! Fifteen days to celebrate face-to-face human interaction! They saw the beauty of each other and appreciated one another even more. Those who were once terrified of dying with little hope of the hereafter knew that they had to fix that. So off to the churches they went.
Things returned to normal again and there was healing in the land. Everybody went about their daily lives and soon forgot about the deadly virus that once swept through the land. However, undefeated and tucked away somewhere, the virus contemplated a return. Perhaps the people would once again begin to trust in the evanescent and require a shocker that would shift their focus back onto the everlasting.