By Benki Basanna, New York
Lockdown means staying at home all the time. The first two days seem to be “Sweet-Home,” but on the third day onwards it begins to feel like a “Prison.”
My old American colleague and friend, Pradeep Senapati, a software Engineer from Orissa, made a world record last month by running a 110-kilometer in just 17 hours inside his 2-bedroom apartment in Bangalore.
Getting to the depression in prison is easy. However, few persons have made extraordinary achievements while locked up inside four walls of the prison.
South African activist Nelson Mandela, who fought to abolish “Apartheid” ( a policy of discrimination on grounds of race ) was jailed for 27 years. His memoir “Conversations with Myself” written during his prison sentence is considered as a masterpiece of the literary world. After his release from prison, he was elected as the first Black President of South Africa.
Bal Gangadhar Tilak, an Indian social reformer and freedom fighter, was imprisoned from 1908 to 1914 in Mandalay jail, Burma. During that imprisonment time, he wrote a Marathi literature consisting of more than 400 pages using pencil and published as “Geeta-Rahasya”, which consists of decoding verses of Srimad Bhagavad-Gita.
The Discovery of India:
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was imprisoned in the Ahmednagar Fort in Maharashtra during the Quit-India Movement. In that period, he wrote “Discovery of India”. It looks at India’s rich cultural heritage, its history, and its philosophies through the eyes of a patriot fighting for its country’s independence. It is considered a classic work in Indian literature. Four co-prisoners namely Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Govind Ballabh Pant, Narendra Deva and Asaf Ali encouraged and helped Nehru by providing their creative advice and proofreading.
The above examples should encourage us to achieve something great during this Corona Lockdown period.
Although most people have not read it, everyone has probably heard the name of this book – “Mein Kampf “, which means “My fight” in the German language. When Adolf Hitler was put in prison in 1924 for trying to overthrow the government, he wrote his autobiography behind the prison bars. This book describes the process by which Hitler became ‘anti-semitic’ the emergence of his political fanaticism and his plans for the future of Germany.
It is very important to continuously monitor our thoughts and mental health during this lockdown period. Otherwise, many people may turn out to be violent psychopaths and may exploit, harass, and torture weak members of the family, such as children, women at home. Everyone should know that, ‘Domestic Violence is a Crime’ and call the police immediately for help, whenever required.
How are we spending our time in the USA during this quarantine?
Unlike India, people are not beaten by police if people come out of their homes. Thus, people are walking outside and kids are riding bicycles during mornings and evenings, while still maintaining social distancing. The NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that wearing masks is mandatory in public places and inside stores. Some shopping malls offer hand sanitizers and masks to incoming customers for free. The schools in many states of the USA are closed for the rest of the year.
Most NRIs in the USA do not have the luxury of having the services of housemaids. People in the USA are used to doing all the work such as cooking, washing, cleaning, lawn mowing on their own. Hence, this quarantine has little impact on them, unlike in India, where most people depend on housemaids due to very cheap labor costs. Most Software Engineers in the USA are working from home, while the frontline warriors, doctors, and nurses are treating the COVID-19 patients risking their lives. The ‘Work from Home’ (WFH) option is actually a blessing in disguise as it saves driving time, reduces traffic, and provides more family time for parents and children.
Many regional associations (example, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, etc), Indian associations, and Hindu Temples in the USA are hosting free webinars by inviting well-known doctors, economists, journalists, immigration attorneys, bankers, playback singers, film heroes/heroines, and stand-up comedians. These Indian associations and Hindu temples are also doing ‘Corona Relief Fundraisers’ to help people in India and the USA.
We shall do our best to be ‘Lovely’ during this lockdown period, following the philosophy that everything happens for our good only. Let us pray to God to save humankind from coronavirus and restore normalcy.