24 March, Kolkata, India

By Moinak Dutta

Only two days back, we observed Janata Curfew, a voluntary home quarantine, following the request of our honourable Prime Minister.  Though the lock down was for a day then it was peaceful, by and large. Only at 5pm there was a lot of excitement in our locality – people went to their balconies or terraces and thumped on silver plates or thalis. Some rang bells. Some shouted. The overall atmosphere was no less than jubilant.  

Today, when we learnt that our PM would address the nation on TV at 8 pm we were looking forward to it with a lot of anticipation and apprehension too. In his televised address today, he asked us to observe 21 days lockdown as it seemed to be the necessary step to ‘break the chain’ in the spread of the disease, which has so far affected more than six hundred people in our country, leaving 20 dead. 

The moment we heard the news, we went out to buy necessary groceries and other things from the market and I was simply bowled over by the crowd at our local market. Everyone was in a hurry to procure items as if the end of the world was near and we should all eat a lot before courting death. I was shocked and bewildered. The things I needed for home could not be found in any shop though they were pretty ordinary food items, some packets of puffed rice and noodles.  The lockdown made me realise the possibility of panic buying; it also made me realise how hard it could be if we are pushed to a real emergency.