Opinion and Editorial

Will Santa bring the much-desired antidote to the pandemic?

ambica@khaleejtimes.com Filed on October 22, 2020


I'm most chuffed that in the current "me first" era, there are little people who are able to think beyond themselves

"I'm going to write to Santa for medicines for all my friends so we don't get coronavirus," my five-year-old chirpily informs me one morning. The e-learning we had opted for when schools reopened for the new academic year is obviously giving him major Fomo vibes. How long do you get a first grader to sit still in front of a screen and expect him to prosper with no social interaction with kids his age? How much of Lego can you construct in your free time? How much of pretend play can you engage your mind in? Left generally unsupervised after his school work is done by midday, the painstakingly set earlier ritual of nodding off at 7 in the evening only to wake up bleary-eyed at the break of dawn and a quick dash to the bus stop has been replaced by an abysmally late wake hour. From bed to washroom to classroom with a breakfast detour is all done under a record-worthy 30 minutes at our household currently.

"My brain is paining badly," he grimaced dramatically the other day as we began another morning of classes. 'Why, what happened?,' I pretend concern as I quickly scan to make sure the computer's camera is not on and his entire class is not witnessing his histrionics. "I studied too much yesterday," he moans, his face scrunched up in what he presumes to be a look of utter misery. I'm hard pressed to not retort that he might have a better career prospect as a stand-up than an astronaut or space superhero he is aspiring to be. But apparently children have feelings, I am told, as he moans about the lack of appreciation for his self-acclaimed wunderkid traits.   

There are days when I'm tempted to tell him that yeah, appreciation might be a bit lacking in this family right now swarmed as we are with official work, house work, e-learning, in the midst of seeing ourselves through a deadly virus that has deprived many of us of the support system we had taken for granted earlier.   

From an 8 to 2 session in front of the computer screen to relaxing in front of the telly for a bit afterwards and connecting with family members back home through the mobile screen, he's been peering through a virtual window at the world for long.

"You know, I don't go down to play anymore since the monster coronavirus is all over the place - it could be in the garbage bin, in the soil.," I overheard him explain matter-of-factly to his aunt over the phone. The virus has been a regular in our vocabulary ever since we went into lockdown mode way back in March. Strict admonishments to touch absolutely nothing, including handles and walls and all shiny surfaces have become de rigueur ahead of our rare family trip outside the house.

"Please call up Ma'am and tell her I have asked Santa for the medicines," he informs me as I dash off for work. Children are incredibly resilient creatures. They love to know all the minute details of an emergency and take great pride in assuming they could be part of a heroic solution. "What can I do to help," has been a constant refrain in my house specially now that the mid-term break is on. In the midst of it all, I have also come to realise that kids, just like adults, require a sense of routine. A purpose to wake up to - and no amount of free TV time can make up for the lack of one.

And I'm most chuffed that in the current "me first" era, when under the thrall of a strong survival instinct, we are all retreating into our self-imposed bubbles - what better way to do that than by self isolating with a stockpile of food items some of us may never get through in our lifetimes - there are little people who are able to think beyond themselves. Now I just hope Santa gets the memo.




Ambica Sachin

Armed with a double masters in English Literature, Ambica Sachin embarked on a career that has seen her straddle teaching, assisting an award-winning author, and reviewing books and movies, before finding her forte in critical writing and interviewing celebrities. She is currently Editor, City Times, the lifestyle and entertainment portal of Khaleej Times.

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