It seems coronavirus is a lesser evil and the greater evil lurks within us. Now that shutdown is over, it is out in the open, its laughter resounding everywhere
The night was stormy, accompanied by heavy rain. The trees tossed in all directions, as if in intoxication, and the earth, shivering with joy, seemed to hold itself to the piercing raindrops to have all its impurities washed away, to be cleansed.
To the well-informed, it may sound naive, and to the scientifically-minded, unscientific. Yet, when it rains overnight in such a way, which it often does these days, the rainy season having well set in, it raises hope that the following morning will be a different one.
It will be a day when we will move outside fearlessly, without having the foreboding of approaching death, or without having to suspect the person next to us to be the cause of our downfall.
It will be such a shiny day, under the purifying glow of the sun, when we will come again near each other, hold each other in a warm embrace.
Over the ages, the rain has come to be perceived as having such a cleansing and life-giving impact that it raises our hopes all the while.
But when the day rolls on to the gloomy announcement by the health department of the score of more deaths and hundreds of more infections from the virus, the night's promise of a different day lies shattered, holding us up to severe ridicule.
"There is something, which rain cannot wash away," it mocks.
"You still do not have what can wipe it off," it chuckles.
Perhaps, it is so. But someday, sooner or later, we are going to have it. No doubt about that. The virus will go or at least it will be tamed to such an extent that it will no longer be considered a threat.
But deeper inside, where even the virus does not have access, there is something else more lethal, more fatal, festering more virulently, which no vaccine can treat or kill.
It is and has always been there. It persists, holding its ground tenaciously. The pandemic has only overshadowed it. But it comes out, in various forms, mutating all the while, in keeping with the season prevailing in the outside.
We have seen subsidised rice, meant for distressed people hit hard by the pandemic; being recovered from the possession of the ruling party activists in different parts of the country.
Even the fear of coronavirus could not deter them from stealing poor people's share of food.
In Gazipur, the wife and three minor children of an expatriate Bangladeshi in Malaysia did never think that there would be predators prowling around to kill them.
On April 23, at the height of the pandemic, the mutilated bodies of the four were found lying on the second floor of their house. They had all their throats slit.
It happened at a time when everything receded to the background amid government-imposed shutdown meant to rein in the spread of coronavirus.
Police hunted down the killers, who claimed they had entered the house with an intent to commit burglary in the relative solitude created by the lockdown imposed on the district where the number of Covid-19 cases was on the rise.
But entering the house, they turned into predators, raping the woman and her two girls and lastly killing them all. They even did not spare the mentally disabled minor boy.
Coronavirus could not suppress the internecine clash of the ruling party over establishing dominance that led to the killing of a person in Narayanganj on May 27.
Earlier in the month, two arms-wielding directors of Sikder Group were hell-bent on getting approved a bank loan. They tried to kill two Exim Bank high officials as they refused to inflate the value of the directors' mortgaged property.
A case was filed against them. Messing up, the two flew out of the country in an air ambulance on May 25 through Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
Police were on the hunt for them, and, interestingly, before fleeing, they even obtained permission from the law enforcement agencies to leave the country.
And now that the government has decided not to extend general holidays, or shutdown in other words, because it cannot afford to bear the economic losses. And, the first thing they greeted the already strained people with is a 60 percent increase in transport fares.
The argument: as buses will not be allowed to carry passenger beyond half its capacity, the fares should be revised upward.
But has it ever crossed the mind of those in power that many people have been thrown out of jobs because of the pandemic? While many did not get their salary for April, let alone the Eid bonus? Where will they get the money to pay the extra fares?
Again, everybody, having a sane mind, knows very well that the carrying passengers half their capacity will soon turn into full capacity but the fares will hardly ever come down.
In the meantime, people will get into brawls over who will get first on the bus, hold each other by the collar and curse their fate.
Now, we understand where we have returned. Some mouths will now become frothy from chanting the rosary of economic development in the country. Corruption will be ubiquitous. Killing, rape, casualties in road accidents will become so commonplace that nobody will even care to count then. The old same story.
What is new is only Covid-19, which, besides its toll of thousands of deaths across the country, has provided us with a perspective against which we can see ourselves — we can look into ourselves.
It seems coronavirus is a lesser evil and the greater evil lurks within us. Now that shutdown is over, it is out in the open, its laughter resounding everywhere.