Therefore, living with a veiled face may have become the new norm. So much has been said, many of us have learned to change our lives. But there are some things that make us laugh and cry at the same time. Let me explain.
The other day, my cousin came home with her two children. The youngest, who is just over a year and a half, is quite a handful. As we laughed and watched the little boy’s tricks, we noticed how he started having a seizure the moment any of us grabbed our face masks.
The baby was trying to be heard, to be picked up, to be seated in a stroller and taken out because the baby has learned that when someone picks a mask, they are coming out. We laughed when we watched the scene unfold. We clapped, bathed the baby with kisses and felt his tenderness wash over us with joy, but the episode of the mask refused to let me.
It continued to haunt my mind because living a life straight out of science fiction is no small feat. When I look back, I remember my son would raise his hands and make a fuss when he saw someone wear a shoe. This ironic change in behavior does not leave a good taste in the mouth. But the reality of today’s times is our ability to find our way through this maze of human behaviors and security methods by questioning ourselves.
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I wonder how the baby will react when he finds out the world that used to be. Will you be surprised that we used to shake hands or worse yet, will you even know about shaking hands when our palms would thank each other? Do you think that bumping your fists and elbows weren’t social conventions?
Will he express his disgust that we breathe unfiltered air and openly sniff without caring? Does it seem strange to you that our noses hung out in the open for all to see and that face masks weren’t even a thing? Will you laugh saying that the world that used to be is only in our imagination and that we are all making it up? Or is it just imagination that we live a life where we could hug our friends without worrying about their travel history?
Stranger than fiction
This life we are living is certainly stranger than fiction: shuddering to cough and sneeze but rejoice in the ray of hope called a vaccine, a little prick in the arm gave us so much to look forward to that we all thought we could. break the chain. And that was enough because we needed that little straw to hold onto even as funeral pyres lit up the evening skies.
We endured waiting for our turn to jab because it helped us live through the dark phases of the long Covid. Even as the disease quietly seeped through relationships and strained ties, we believed that everything would calm down once the game was over.
But when will that be? We ask as we suckle our weary feet, ready to leave this sci-fi life even as mind-numbing cynicism masks rationality, will we ever go back to what it used to be. And if we go back, can the baby forget this world of veiled faces? I do not know.
As we race into a third year with a covid baggage and a torch of hope in the form of a vaccine, I pray that there are no more clothes with matching face masks. They say that humans have lasted so long because we live each day with our ability to overcome all adversities. Maybe we can do this. This may last, until it lasts, but we can’t stop celebrating a new year because we know there is hope. And the last one?
“He doesn’t recognize people when they don’t have masks,” laughs my cousin over the phone. I don’t know if I should laugh or cry. “This madness has to end,” I shake my head because science fiction is fun just because it’s not real, and frankly we’re all tired.
Most importantly, we all want to show our smiles without having to hide those curves behind screens and this year I could make that happen.
Sudha Subramanian is a Dubai-based author and writer. Twitter: @sudhasubraman