Durgadas P.V.

Just think of the change in lifestyle, outlook, and the routine which a virus with a single stranded RNA genome has brought about the world over in a matter of a few weeks……!

When the whole population leading a peaceful and normal life has turned paranoid, I would like to give an insight into the specialities or behavioral traits of the person whom I am married to, by narrating a few instances.

It was one early morning in 2012 as Venad Express stood at platform four of Trivandrum central station. We could locate our seats without much hassle as a porter was engaged to handle the luggage. The porter who had initially promised to do the job for 'whatever you give', did extort rupees one hundred for two medium sized bags weighing not more than ten kg. Handling fifteen passengers a day would earn more than my pension amount, I thought…..

As a preparation to enter the train, she wrapped a tissue paper around the handle of the coach before holding on to it. Before she reached the seat, I could sit down and open the morning newspaper I bought at the platform stall. As expected, a detailed procedure had to be completed before her seat was occupied. Another tissue paper was pulled out from the hand bag. It was profusely smeared with the Dettol solution from a small bottle. The seat, the backrest, the hand rest, the folding table in front, etc were thoroughly wiped with the tissue a number of times. Before she sat down it was ensured that the whole seat was giving out the aroma of Dettol. The train was whistled off at the right time. My offer to part with a couple of pages of the daily was instantly refused as she was apprehensive of the cleanliness of the stall and the vendor at the platform. She took out her own clean ' Arogyam' magazine to read. After a while she complained of some itching in her elbows and waist. When I was requested to examine the reason, I had to take a break from the Soduku game and probe into the problem. It was soon revealed that there was an array of bed bugs running helter skelter as if something had derailed their peaceful existence. Yes, they were fast asleep in the crevices of the seat. They were woken up by the irritating smell of Dettol which was lavishly used to sanitise the seat by her. I could very well imagine their irritation as I too have it when I am woken up in the midst of my sweet slumber. Since there was no antidote to doze off those insects, we had to get down at Ernakulam station with itching red patches in our hand and certain other parts of the body which warranted liberal use of Lacto calamine lotion for relief.

After returning home, the 'operation cleaning' involved washing the wheels and handles of the luggage with sanitizer liquid, boiling the clothes used while sitting in the train, etc. The clothes used while on travel were washed in segregation with special detergents.

Can you believe that when we were in Mumbai, she was the only one in our whole clan who refused to taste 'gol guppa' at Chowpatty beach? Leave alone that, she never ate Kulfi complaining about the colour of the outer cover. The 'mudi' s in the Bihar trains and 'Bhel' at the Bund Garden in Pune were never even tried by her. And many times she succeeded in scaring away others by describing the 'dire' consequences.

Eating out was a real pain for her. Her peculiar habits include thoroughly washing bananas and oranges before peeling. She made it a point even to wash a coconut before husking it. Washing of hands after using handles, door knobs, switches, etc. is a matter of priority with her. Before washing the hands, the handle of the tap used to be invariably washed…..! Even when we visited Switzerland, she refused to make use of the towels and bed sheets provided in the star hotel we stayed in. Should I add that the sheets and rugs given in AC coaches in Indian railways won't be touched even with a long pole…..!

Year before when we landed at Boston's Logan airport, the grandkids came to receive us. As they came running, I hugged them at first sight. She did so only after having a bath at home. Similarly when they return from the daycare, they were sent for a shower before being greeted and ushered into the living room…..!

When the servant maid enters the house, she is invariably greeted with a command to wash her hands….

And it was not unusual that we fight on matters of being too fussy over hygiene and cleanliness. We did miss certain functions thanks to her being too obstinate on such matters.

The aforesaid manifestations of her normal behaviour will certainly help the readers foresee the precautions she would adopt during the 'corona days' in vogue.....

I wanted the readers to imagine how many times I would be washing my hands being quarantined in the house in the wake of the constant hammering by the media, and administration when all of us have been made into germaphobes…..!