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We have reached the end of the month with me having missed many days of rambling. Such is life these days. I am not just busy, but too tired at the end of each day to get down to writing posts, even those that I have carefully planned during the day. That makes me realize that I am not young anymore. Those were days when I could have the busiest of days and still forgo sleep/rest to blog. Now sleeping at the right time is a must, as also waking up. I have to be fit for the day. You see, now I cannot simply say ‘I am too tired, let me loll’ whenever I wanted like I used to before. Life needs that I be alert, on my feet and ready to deal with the day. So yeah, that’s why so many posts have gone missing this February, having been written only in my head, not made it here. But they are there alright, stored securely, so will get written sooner than later, whenever I find the time. In the mean time let me tell you all about ‘aarkkanum vendi okkanikkunnathu poley‘.

It is a Malayalam saying and means umm… what exactly does it mean? I don’t think it can be translated as is. So to what it stands for, something to the effect of doing things just for the sake of it.

Recently I had been waiting in the reception area of a prestigious hospital. I had a good view of the entrance and hence idly watched the happenings. There was a male security guard in uniform and a female employee of the hospital, also in her uniform sari. Between the pair of them they stopped all entrants to check their temperature and dispense sanitizer as also asking each where they were headed. I don’t know about other places, but here if not checked and restricted, whole families are liable to follow each patient into the hospital at all times of the day, never mind the visiting hours. Fortunately (I never thought I’d be using that word with reference to corona virus) corona virus has put a stop to this crowding. Only just. Even now hospitals have to strictly remind people that only one person is allowed to accompany a patient.

Anyway, while watching the action and thinking these thoughts, I also started noticing how people were sanitizing their hands. There were a few who wee diligently applying the sanitizer al over both hands. Some were doing the sanitizing halfheartedly, doing a complicated maneuver with their fingers and expecting the sanitizer to spread itself. But what astounded me was when a woman walked in holding a file in one hand. She extended the other hand for the sanitizer and with the same maneuver I had noticed from others tried to spread it on just that one hand. She left alone the other hand which was holding the file. Like really? I now started taking a keener interest.

Next came a posse of nuns. One was in a wheel chair, she rubbed sanitizer on both her hands. Of the other two, one had a bag and the other a file in one hand each. They casually extended one hand, received the sanitizer and… you guessed it, tried to make their fingers do the magic and left it at that. One of them was seen shaking off the sanitizer as if she had got extra. Really, Sister? I wanted to ask. Next I saw a couple of hospital employees, enter. They were waved through without sanitizing their hands. Okay, they have their own dispensers at their stations or wherever, I concluded, which is why they were being let off with just a temperature check. But when I looked, they went straight to punch themselves in. Like really, without sanitizing your hand?

Just then I saw the female security extend her hand to dispense sanitizer to a woman who had entered, but she had bags in both her hands. She was with someone who was going to be admitted. Wait a minute, I thought, don’t tell me she was going to be allowed to walk away because of that? The woman kept her bags down and went outside to get one more bag. Meanwhile her companion had sanitized his hands. The woman returned, picked up all three bags and simply walked on, both the security staff none the wiser.

Watching more and more of the same, I seriously wondered if there was a moratorium on good sense. Sanitizing your hands is such a simple and easy first line of defense against the spread of the deadly virus we have been told repeatedly. And yet, here at a hospital, a prestigious private one at that, no one was paying attention in enforcing it, or doing it the right way. It was a clear case of those involved acting like aarkkanum vendi okkanikkunnathu poley. Doing it just for the sake of it, because someone told you or you had heard it had to be done, or simply ‘oh whatever’. Not with a clear thought to keep oneself and loved ones and everyone else, safe.

To think this was just a minute section of a very large and dense population that I had seen in action! What about the rest, I wondered. By the way, don’t even get me started on how people wear their masks, or you will find yourself swamped in one thousand five hundred or more words. Not that that will stop me, what does, is only the fact that it is time for me to cook lunch. 😉

© Shail mohan 2021