My kingdom for a doorknob that's safe

Bikram Vohra
Filed on September 24, 2020

Last week, I wrote about my favourite things. This week, it's all about things that I am no longer able to display fondness for. Like I have nothing against doorknobs and handles on cars, but now I look upon them with a certain tangible nervousness, the sort Stanley Livingstone might have felt if a snake had climbed up his jodhpurs.
At one time, we had a passing relationship (doorknobs and I, not Stanley) and it was, at best, cordial and, at worst, a little indifferent. I mean they were there, they had a role and we would live amicably with each other. Often, when we crossed each other's paths, it gave way to me and I would sort of latch it behind me and we both got on with our lives. Now, I approach the knob or the handle with a caution last seen in Jaws or Crocodile Dundee.

Step one: Approach gingerly with dry mouth and increased BP. Step two: Look around for fingerprints on whatever device opens whatever door you wish to enter. Step three: Take a tissue and, of course, this is exactly when tissues finish. Pull out handkerchief, oh no, didn't bring one, locate part of newspaper, wrap it around finger, pull the knob then drop the paper, trot off to the closest basin to sanitise and wash and tremble with frissons of fear that someone else must have touched that knob. Now wait seven days to be sure.

Along with doorknobs are phone receivers, remote controls, elevator buttons, keyboards, spoons, glasses and even wads of cash. Chairs are now monsters. Especially if they are in clinics, waiting rooms, offices, you sort of stare at them obliquely, like who sat there today, give me a list, have it countersigned by a magistrate, no, I will stand, thank you very much.

I have become quite the athlete at opening doors sans hands. Nudge with knee, push with foot, shove with elbow, hit with shoulder, all good. You get that glass door and you look at the smudged fingerprints on it and you want to sing, Show me the way to go home. As for revolving doors, nimble your way through without touching.
Going to a public toilet is now the level of a gladiator going into the lion's arena armed only with flimsy hopefulness. Mask. Check. Gloves. Check. Sanitiser. Check. Look balefully at the toilet bowl. Glare at the spatula on the flush. Minimise all contact with all objects in vicinity, even it means doing a twinkle toe ballet in balance. Pull the flush like a bat out of hell and scram for the sanitiser. Stop, look at it on the wall, who used it last, what great irony there would be if Covid had dispatched a platoon to sit on the top of this container, okay where is the tissue. The other day, I ran out of charge on my phone and would not dare ask someone for his mobile to make one call.

Now, obviously, contact is made with one of these objects at some stage and you go home and get into a medical frenzy. Migoodness I feel chills, do I have a fever. My throat is itching, that scratchy, scratchy feeling, just like on Google under symptoms, woe is me. And if it is not a scratchy throat, that sense of smell is getting a little suspish. Can you smell the roses? No. The perfume. No. What about the fish? Hmmm, just a bit. This is big trouble. Then you read that you get breathless. There is no doubt about it, I can sense that lack of oxygen, trouble with a capital T.

Then you wake up in the morning and the dread has gone, the throat is clear, the breathing normal, the sinuses sparkling and, with the relief, it is time again for the knob and handle challenge relay.
bikram@khaleejtimes.com





 
 
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