Each evening, a friend forwards that day’s statistics for COVID19 as released by the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Man from Madras Musings eagerly awaits this missive and then for the rest of the day, his mood fluctuates from sunny to downright overcast based on what he has seen. His good lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed takes a far more balanced view and remains oblivious of fluctuations – in the figures and in MMM’s moods. She does not worry about either – the figures or MMM’s mood swings. And that is that.
Now MMM does not share in this equanimity. He belongs to that type to whom anything from the Government requires attention and immediate analysis, including property tax, income tax, water tax and other such demands, all of which even before they give you details of amount due spell out the penalties in case you don’t pay. Despite having read those threats for years, MMM still cannot control a tremor of the hand and a faster beating of the heart each time the Government chooses to communicate with him. In matters of Governmental communications, MMM is like Ben Bolt’s Sweet Alice with hair so brown who trembled with delight at his smile and wept with fear at his frown. The only difference being that MMM, what with receiving many Government communiques has hardly any hair left, brown or otherwise.
Anyway, to get back to the COVID figures released by the Government, there are some very reassuring aspects to them. Rather like the pricing strategy of a well-known shoe company, the numbers always hover just below a psychological level. The total cases reported is always just short of 6,000, the number in the city is just below 1,000 and the number of fatalities is always in a high double digit, a tad shy of the nineties. Yes, we do know Tamil Nadu has been a consistent performer across many fronts, but so consistent a performance even in epidemic ratings is somewhat startling. But there are now some naysayers who have begun to doubt these figures. There has been a newspaper report too asking as to how these numbers are more or less rock steady. MMM however continues to believe in them.
There are however drawbacks to this consistency. Just as a person who leads a sedentary life is prone to palpitations if he has to run to catch a bus or avoid a dog, so too has MMM been led into a certain complacence as far as these numbers are concerned. And so, when the figures on certain odd days do rise higher than the Plimsoll line so to speak, he goes into a tizzy and looks on the darker side. The reverse is also true – on days when the numbers dip somewhat, MMM goes singing about the house. All said and done, there is not a dull day with this virus. But as they say, too many shocks to the system are not good and MMM looks forward to the day when the virus will be a thing of the past – with or without a vaccine.