• Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020
  • Last Update : 04:38 am

Captivity and cloudy days

  • Published at 07:51 pm May 4th, 2020
Dhaka roundabout pandemic covid opinion
Photo: Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune

How are all the different people faring during the lockdown?

The day started off like any other. Except that after performing the daily chores of brushing my teeth, freshening up, and sipping on my first dose of coffee, it struck me that I am in fact heading nowhere.

There was no need for me to dress up for my usual MS Teams and Zoom meetings. 

The semester had officially come to a close and I could take a breath of fresh air, except that I couldn’t gasp the air from outside. 

It marked 30 days of captivity within the walls of my own sanctuary, which had started to resemble a prison.

The same old schedule was on repeat; with no sight of a goal or a clear purpose, I decided to observe the outskirts of my neighbourhood. 

I could hear people shouting in the neighbourhood from the comfort of their own homes about how the pandemic was not their concern, hunger is. 

A small group of day labourers and factory workers had captured the road right in front of the house a few days back, claiming that the virus was a hoax to keep them in poverty.

As I observed stores and small vendors opening up for business from my window, I could see the dismay in their faces reflecting their concerns about how they would put food on “their” plates today if sales were to be just as disappointing as the previous day. 

A rich gentleman kept on rolling his wrist to glance at the time. He seemed in dire need of his luxurious car, but with both his “glove struck” hands preoccupied with vegetables, his face covered in a fancy surgical N95 mask, and his body covered in what I would best describe as a “raincoat”, I understood why his chauffeur might have whizzed past him in the first place.  

An underprivileged woman, perhaps some would choose to call her a beggar, was wandering around the blocks in search of food. 

The streets, not as noisy as before, presented her with only a handful of opportunities to earn her daily wage, but those few vehicles only had sympathy to offer.

Watching the occupants of the vehicles being preoccupied with the thought of serving food “on their tables” only made the woman more depressed. 

She mumbled something. Perhaps something along the lines of “Dia jan, Allah apnar bhalo korbe” (Can you please give me something, Allah will bless you). 

The car whizzed past her as soon as the signal turned green, and the woman crossed the street to the other side in the hopes of acquiring a few pennies from the next stop. What appeared to be a red light for the vehicles was her “green signal” that could have provided for her livelihood.

The dull, cloudy sky finally started its downpour of heavy droplets, as another group of men who were observing the sight from a distance started contemplating whether the rain signified God’s anger towards mankind’s hostile actions.

As the vendors and consumers got ready to close shop and hustle home, a group of young kids gathered around them to sell stickers and balloons. 

Uninterested, they all scrabbled for the exits. A boy, perhaps less than ten years of age, eventually hung up his shoes. With fear-mongering about his next meal, he couldn’t fathom anything else around him. 

As the sky cleared up and the drizzle stopped, the boy let go of his balloons in the air. 

The rainbow struck sky became even more colourful with the ascension of his multi coloured balloons, making the rainbow appear brighter on what could best be described as a dull, gloomy afternoon.

Another sunset was fast approaching. As the sky cleared up and the sun slowly dipped behind the skyscrapers, the length of its presiding shadow only made things darker. “Will the US create a vaccine? Does China already have a vaccine? Will the Yuan be the reserve currency of the world?”

These questions seemed to be on everyone’s minds as I opened my Facebook account to check up on friends and family. While all else is debatable, the fact that Friday seems to reappear every two days, is clearly not.

“Will this captive lifestyle end tomorrow?” Perhaps. But what it has indeed managed to teach us all is that “patience, really is a virtue”.

Sayeed Ibrahim Ahmed is an MSc graduate in Finance from Imperial College London. An experienced stock market investor, he is currently working as a Senior Lecturer in the department of Finance at American International University-Bangladesh (AIUB) pursuing research along the lines of capital markets and economic policy

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