• Tuesday, Oct 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:54 pm

When common sense takes a backseat

  • Published at 08:40 pm April 26th, 2020
People are resorting to homemade 'cures' such as honey and garlic

In desperation we are coming up with ideas that are outlandish and fatal

Miracle cures have always had millions of followers, especially if the so-called antidote involves food items. In this time of corona, it’s quite normal that our common sense has taken a backseat, and all sorts of ideas are popping about, purporting to work as a shield against the virus. 

While the US president is drawing flak for suggesting the injection of disinfectants, I think we need to move away from ridiculing him and look at his statement from the angle of sheer hopelessness. 

While the president later tried to defuse the criticism by saying that he had been sarcastic, the footage clearly showed that he was very solemn. 

Instead of mocking Trump, we need to look at the magnitude of the problem which triggered such a comment. A similar comment was also made in our country by another well-known person who suggested cleaning the lungs with Dettol, Savlon, and other similar items. 

There was social media backlash, but these ideas show that we are absolutely at the mercy of this virus which has proven, so far, to be intractable. 

In desperation we are coming up with ideas that are actually downright outlandish and fatal. 

During the plague in the Middle Ages in Europe, people tore pages from the Holy Bible, put it in water, and then drank the water, believing it to work against the raging Black Death.  

Several countries have already chalked out plans to relax their lockdowns. This means many nations are resigned to the fact that a vaccine won’t be invented soon and, therefore, life has to come back to a semblance of normalcy within a framework of regulations. 

While the world is fighting with an invisible enemy, countless so-called cures are appearing all over the place. As a journalist going about talking to people, I come across quite a few suggestions -- some very banal, others a little psychedelic. 

Garlic onslaught

Reportedly, the price of garlic has risen because people are buying it in a frenzy, believing that taking crushed garlic in hot water will fortify the immune system. The idea was first circulated on Facebook and now, garlic has become a favourite item for many. 

Whether it works against Covid-19 or not, garlic is known to bring down blood pressure and, therefore, there is no harm. In these times of eerie silence blanketing the country, the garlic obsession will deter Count Dracula for sure! 

The young domestic help at my house often comes up with incredible ideas: The first was crushing six lemons, adding some mustard with it and taking it with tepid water. 

“Would you like to try, bhaiya?” He asked enthusiastically. Well, I promised to try it soon. 

There is a common feeling that staying out in the sun creates resistance and prevents the virus from attacking. Believing this, quite a few are spending time under the sun. Getting some Vitamin D is acceptable but overdoing it has the opposite reaction. 

I found it difficult to recognize someone at first sight who had been spending a lot of time under the sun. 

A fair complexioned person had become tanned all of a sudden. Understanding my puzzlement, he smiled and explained: “No, I didn’t go to Cox’s Bazar; just taking in more sun.” 

The local electrician whose shop is closed and now sells watermelons from a cart came up to me with a solicitous look and said: “Boss, take a pot of hot water, put some menthol in it, and inhale. This will clear out all kinds of viruses.”

A dash of honey and the surreal

The most sensible preventive measure was related by a local doctor: “Take a spoon of honey with black seed oil; it will strengthen the immune system and prevent cold and fever.” 

During my walks around the university campus, I came across a rather peculiar looking man, with long hair, carrying a heavy stick. He also looked at me quizzically, possibly thinking: Who is this moving about at night when most are at home?

One day, last week, I raised my hand. “You are not wearing a mask?” I asked. 

He pulled a smile, adding: “I am an ascetic. I have renounced all material pleasures of the world and have become a part of nature and so, the virus won’t affect me.” 

The last line was delivered with total nonchalance. Before walking away, the man said with a chuckle: Be a little less materialistic and you will go beyond all afflictions.  

As I walked back through the desolate roads of the campus, a line from Shakespeare came to mind: “Woe, destruction, ruin, and decay, the worst is death and death will have his day.”

Towheed Feroze is a journalist and teaches at the University of Dhaka.

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