Being Responsible

Ever since the last lockdown was relaxed in September, I have tried to remain vigilant and extra careful. I have attended just one social gathering, where in that too I avoided the crowd. Otherwise, my meet-ups were with my close friends and family members. I have avoided going to town and when I did I would whiz through the place I was in – hardware shops and food marts only. My only prolonged presence was in the restaurants and that too I only chose three places – San Maru, The Pemas and Folk Heritage Restaurant, where COVID protocols were strictly followed.

Above all, I wore a face mask whenever I went out – even in the two days of training I conducted in Paro Shari ECCD, where I was temperature-checked and made to wash my hands before I entered every day. I have also used Druk Trace in all the places I have visited. Funnily enough, I used to get strange looks from other customers when my phone made the “ping” sound that I had druktraced. But being responsible as a citizen is the only way I can contribute in this fight against pandemic.

Yes, all in all, as far as I am concerned, I have done my best, tried to be extra careful, kept a check on my family members to wear masks and to avoid non-essential outings or visit places where there are strangers. So, I am also a bit relaxed as I know that I have done my best to be as safe as possible. Yet, today, as we go through a second lockdown and with cases rising in Thimphu, I am sad that we have got to this despite the best effort of our King to keep us safe. His Majesty’s weary looks on the TV, on the National Day address, is still etched on my mind. I am sure anyone with a brotherly, sisterly or motherly love would have felt strongly for our King that day.

As I write this piece, a third vaccine is on its way towards getting approval from the American FDA. While that is a good news, it is not at all a reason to be complacent. Vaccines are only useful only when we get 70% of our population vaccinated and that will not happen for another year. And, according to some mathematical models produced by epidemiologists, we only need to lower our guards for just a few days for over 100,000 people to be infected. That’s the whole population of Thimphu.

On the positive note, today is the Day of the Meeting of Nine Evils, a popular festival that would have brought together large gatherings. New Year and Nyilo are around the corner and I am sure there would have been family picnics and parties and annual family choku (religious ceremonies). Maybe, this case and the lockdown is another godsend? 

Since we cannot rely on our own people to keep ourselves safe, I would like to think that the divinities and deities are still watching over us – despite our continued indifference, complacencies and arrogance.

And of course, our King is there, no matter what physical state he is in.

Be extra careful, my countrymen, wherever you are. 

File photo: Even during a visit to a remote village I wore a mask. I thank my allergy to dust, which forces me to wear one all the time

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