Dhaka Courier

Love, in the time of...Corona!

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"Together they had overcome the daily incomprehension, the instantaneous hatred, the reciprocal nastiness, and fabulous flashes of glory in the conjugal conspiracy. It was time when they both loved each other best, without hurry or excess, when both were most conscious of and grateful for their incredible victories over adversity. Life would still present them with other moral trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore."

Colombian Nobel prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez narrated the love he explored in his imagination through these immortal verses, in his monumentally popular novel 'El amor en los tiempos del cólera', aka 'Love in the Time of Cholera' (1985). Until the availability of necessary, life-saving vaccines the world was dealing with deadly diseases like plague or cholera; and over the round of clock, the timeline of the world is now dealing with another deadly mercenary disease known under the alias of Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Like all the sufferer people around the entire world, lovers from Tom Hanks-Rita Wilson to Justine Trudeau-Sophie Grégoire, around the globe, are also exploring the havoc of this deadly contagious virus.

There can be many questions regarding the word ‘love’ at this crucial time in the history of human civilization in the world. Nowadays, a word like ‘love’ seems fancy as it generally reminds us about ‘couples’. In the Asian subcontinent, love has been forbidden even at this 2020 to many, just like it was forbidden to the society when the teenage tinkering and then old redemptions between Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, was discovered in the novel. The society raised fingers to the couple- are the lovers completely delusional? Are they foolish for ignoring death's approach, the tragedy and violence that surrounds them? Are they selfish for ignoring their responsibilities to others? Or is love greater and nobler when it endures in calamity, as Florentino tells his beloved? Are the lovers to be admired for shaking off society's shackles and stubbornly persisting in the face of so many hardships?

The answer might vary from person to person; however the natural picturesque of love has been changed in these crucial times of COVID-19 in the world. From the famous Pont des Arts, known as the Lock Bridge in Paris where visitors attach personalized padlocks to its railing in remembrance of their love and throw the keys away in the Seine River, to the Mughal celestial embodiment of love, Agra’s Taj Mahal in India - all went to sleep when the COVID-19 made all hells broke down. So as the lovers, as the disease is highly contagious; even between the closest of hearts and souls. Country’s legendary places where the lovers share a walk together or sit without a hollow of any virus fear, such as the Ramna park, Fuller Road, Bailey Road or Love Lane in the capital - are now being empty without the lovers. Not only these outside places - the principal hub for enduring a chat through good cuisines or over the cup of coffees among the lovers had been the restaurants in the cities, and unfortunately, those places are also being empty due to the outbreak.

These scenarios are, however, pretty much disturbing and satisfying at the same time. Disturbing, as the world really did not endure catastrophe like this Coronavirus for such a long, long time. It used to explore the cherry blossoms in the name of love, explore the madness of the dancing couple in the rain or concerts or in the discos or in the melodies of blues and jazz. Suddenly all harmonies got shackled down a bit, as the virus is blocking all melodies beneath its deadly siren. However, the scenario of physical detachments is also satisfying, as the intimate contact between the lovers might get them infected unknowingly or unwillingly; and through these rough and strange times of ‘quarantine’ they are safe, at least for now due to the distances.

Sadly this went above pleasance in many unfortunate places like Italy or China. The COVID-19 has completely devastated so many European and Asian countries, as well as the United States- but the death toll in countries like Italy, Spain, Iran, China, France and United Kingdom along with the States, has completely stunned the world and shaken into its core. All these places hold picturesque embodiment of love - The gondola rides in the streets of Venice, the lock bridge in the Seine river in Paris, the annual tomatina festival in the Valencian town of Buñol, the sane yet insanely romantic breeze of Thames river in London or the romantic landscapes in Wuhan - all are mourning for losing their beloveds. Suddenly the shores of love have been brutally silenced ever since the Coronavirus started to take the lives away of the people, and suddenly the regularity of love became extremely pricey instead of being priceless.

Modern problem requires modern solution, although the proper solutions are still being cooked in the labs of the world’s greatest scientists who are trying to invent the vaccine for this deadly contagious virus. So this is yet to solve the problem - but the sensible lovers prepared the solution on their own through measures like self-quarantine. In this realm of internet and telecommunication, lovers can easily interact with each other through the internet using social media sites, texts or even at mails, if they admire Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan starring film ‘You’ve Got Mail’ like this author. The sensational affection of love can hold their glasses for a while because now it is the time to pursue the wise decision and maintain the physical distance so the contagious virus cannot go through the lungs of the lovers, located side by side with their beating hearts. The good thing is that sensible lovers around the world are following the safety measures of quarantine for the sake of themselves and their beloveds- unlike some of the people in Bangladesh who preferred not following the rules over infecting their dear ones, knowing all the risks and through the nation into jeopardy.

One of the saddest things of this Coronavirus happened to be the assurance of the experts that the virus can harm older people more profoundly, than the younger ones. Lovers who fought for years and decades to earn their places and establish their loves on their own, are now being informed to receive zero commitments and zero hope to die peacefully from the society in largely affected countries- nothing can defeat the unpleasantness of this scenario. Sadly this is the truth in many places as the world prefers to save the young generation than the senior citizens. Although Florentino in the aforementioned novel courageously said once that “There is no greater glory than to die for love”, the forced death bestowed by any contagious disease surely surpass the quote as everyone deserves their right to live and love.

The time is insanely dangerous and infectious, leading the world into another ‘great depression’ in many regions of it. To fight and survive into the coming days, the world needs to be empathic, bold, courageous against all odds and extremely passionate in terms of keeping the hopes and dreams alive. This malicious virus will stop taking lives if the lovers can spread positivity among their beloveds about the importance of saving Mother Nature, taking care of the hygiene and doing the necessaries according to the time - as Márquez wrote –

“These are things, you do only for love.”

  • Love, in the time of... Corona!
  • Vol 36
  • Md. Ishtiak Hossain
  • Issue 38
  • DhakaCourier

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