Daily cases of covid-19 have been declining in India for a while, and going by the number of people out and about and crowding vacation spots, fear of the virus has receded too. Prevention and precaution is no longer an acceptable reason to avoid being outdoors—or as a client put it to a startup-founder friend: “If you want the sale, come and meet me in person.” At the start of the first lockdown, there was a lot of soul-searching about everyone pulling together, feeling like they were facing the same demons, but that feeling seems to have been replaced by a degree of desensitisation.
Public amnesia seems to have set in—the desperation and anxiety of the summer when everything, from oxygen to time, was in short supply seems to have been forgotten, and along with it, the precautions of distancing and wearing masks correctly. Our cover story this week examines this idea of public amnesia—we all know memory is not infallible, but how long does it take to forget and how long do we remember?
One set of people is living their lives as though everything is “back to normal”—travelling, socialising, eating out—while another is still huddling at home, trying to come to terms with the trauma of the past months. Health workers, who have been dealing with the waves of infection, tell Lounge it’s hard to forget the faces of lost patients and distraught families. They are better prepared with equipment and knowledge for the imminent third wave but are not sure they have the emotional resilience for another battle. How long, though, can people live in a state of siege? It seems only natural that they would want to return to “normal life”, taking time to adjust to the world outside again. Eventually, we all adapt. Or as Elizabeth Bishop observed in her poem "One Art": The art of losing isn’t hard to master/ so many things seem filled with the intent/ to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
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