This plague, an obscure and largely-forgotten Camus spoke to me about another plague, in a Mumbai apartment.

I was taken aback. Two plagues and venues varied collide

in a single instant and frame, but

retain their individual

flavours and contours and

a common dread and stench felt universally by the master race, made vulnerable, again, by a tiny virus, of all the threats.

 

Plagues!

They descend suddenly like the swarm of locusts

to destabilize, destroy and ruin narratives of power, success and wealth

of a few and labour of many in the ripe fields—beyond

control of laws and decrees and antidotes to your typical superior-species-arrogance and hauter.

 

Camus’s plague hinted grim realities

that evaded the censors of an occupying army

and the catastrophe was deftly deployed as a metaphor, now so chilling and real, like in

every great work of art of enduring value.

 

Our plague—COVID-19—is transnational in force and impact

and travels freely, like a victor, across social divides and constructs

but, turns out to be a great leveler, in the end. Odd, is

it not?

 

And unites humans into a single civilization

of peers, an evolved mortal spirit

that does not surrender easily to any danger and

fights till the end.

The France of 1940s is as contiguous to the 2020-world

as the lines on the calloused palms of the

workers digging wealth for the elites; now useless as a separating fact;

 

this and other plagues, near or remote—

we become One, a unified race, a global family

of fellow beings, equal, connected in pain, whatever be

the political rhetoric of otherness and hate, recovering

lost reverence to nature and other realms,

 

and gradually rise up—

a community of little believers, finding solace, solidarity and hope, in

most unlikely contexts, create multiple versions of a City Humane with the insightful-Camus inscribed, on its post-pestilence, open gates:

There are more things to admire in men than to despise.

Sunil Sharma, a senior academic and author-freelance journalist from the suburban Mumbai, India. He has published 22 books so far, some solo and joint. He edits Setu: http://www.setumag.com/p/setu-home.html Email: drsharma.sunil@gmail.com


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