Balcony concerts, synchronised meetings and Samaritan acts, the lockdown has spurred humanity at all levels
The virus still has us in its vice-like grip, sucking life through its tentacles but it surely hasn’t been able to defeat humanity. Rather has it come upon us to test our humanity and add the spark back in our lives? As the world goes through unprecedented lockdowns brought on by COVID-19, confining heaving populations to their homes, behind shut doors, there’s a window of hope. Those that have more than a window, a balcony, consider themselves even more blessed. For the window sill and the balcony have become the new social space for connecting not just with your neighbour but the community in general. Balcony performances, be it as concerts, songs or dance, have become the latest spectator delight, beginning with the Italians, who first started singing from their balconies to cheer each other up amid the doom and gloom. Now it is a worldwide phenomenon, with bands in Delhi and Gurgaon asking their members to get out on their balconies for impromptu performances. Even aspiring musicians and dancers are getting out their boom boxes on rooftops and balconies to give some relief to the community. In West Delhi, residents organised a balcony antakshari while in Paris, a neighbourhood organised a balcony quiz. An adorable video of two young children from Ohio, US, won the internet recently after they put up a cello performance for a 78-year-old neighbour in quarantine. Ideas keep multiplying as a fitness instructor in Sevilla, Spain, decided to give classes from his rooftop for his neighbours to follow from inside their homes. And a photographer has put together an online gallery of faces of the lockdown by asking inmates to pose on their balconies or windows. Of course, there is a whole breed of Samaritans, particularly the young, who are volunteering to run errands for senior citizens. Shops, too, are working beyond normal hours to accommodate shoppers and have even set aside “senior citizens’” hours for their comfort. Quarantined Lebanese peeped out of their apartment windows recently to celebrate the birthday of a woman who couldn’t leave her home.
There have been umpteen studies on how disasters and crisis bring out the best version of ourselves. Perhaps the surge in solidarity is global this time because the threat of the virus is the same for all, without regard for geography, religion, politics, race and creed. And there’s acceptance that nobody can claim victory over this mysterious virus unless everybody joins hands. This was summed up beautifully by a woman from Wuhan, who came out of lockdown after 76 days, saying the city had now learnt to accept help from others. “Because of quarantine, we have bonded with and supported each other in ways that I’ve never experienced in nine years of living here,” she wrote. Millions of Chinese, normally inscrutable and not given to emotion, are encouraging each other to stand strong, using the expression “jiayou” or “don’t give up.” Just when globalisation had fuelled a consumerist greed and a materialistic acquisition of good fortune, the virus has perhaps challenged our satiety value and testing if we can evolve. But when life seems uncertain by the bend, we have realised that no asset remotely has any value than that of the human bond, our primal need to herd together in solidarity and dependence. Only this awareness can get us through. As Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said, “Let’s distance ourselves from each other today so that we can embrace each other more warmly tomorrow.” History will judge if we could indeed become our best or crash to our worst.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)