A blue sky in New Delhi on April 1, 2020
BY RENU MEHTA
Toronto, Ontario: A new month has dawned. According to T.S. Eliot, “April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.”
Besides the flowers and the onset of Spring, April also launches April Fool’s Day, a day set aside to play harmless pranks, laughter, humour and mischief. This annual day of trickery and hoaxes became popular in the 19th century and is now celebrated all over the world.
This is followed by Light It Up Blue for Autism Day on April 2, with the whole month also being Autism Awareness Month. And April 22 is Earth Day.
Indeed, humanity is going through some tough times. Lockdowns have been imposed in many countries and stay at home directives issued by leaders, struggling to contain this particular outbreak. We are now in the third week of isolation identified to perhaps be the worst week for the Coronavirus pandemic. With thousands around the globe diagnosed with Covid-19 and expected to continue, the Ontario government, in an unprecedented measure, issued a directive that people 70 and over stay at home and others only go out for essentials like health care services, groceries, medication, etc. Otherwise, they would be penalized and fined. Makes sense to me!
In Toronto, a frontline doctor in his late twenties has recently been diagnosed with Covid-19. Fortunately, his symptoms are mild and he is expected to recover. Another known young person works in the ER at a Brampton hospital. Another young man, a cardiac surgeon with one of the major Toronto hospitals is consulting from home, but has to go in frequently to do surgeries. A hospital in Mississauga has declared an outbreak with several people detected positive with the virus and transferred to a special facility. With the pressure intensified due to this virus, life has come to a virtual standstill. People are frantic with worry, afraid to venture out and confined to their own space.
Amidst all this mayhem, there are glimmers of positivity. The most significant is the encouraging impact on the environment. This forced quarantine has been tremendously beneficial for the earth, sky and waters. Over the years, humanity has caused a lot of damage to the environment globally with overconsumption, overexploitation, pollution, and deforestation. The earth was polluted with millions of cars on its roads, the forests were disappearing and the animals were becoming rare or scant.
According to BBC News, and I quote “both China and Northern Italy are recording significant fall in nitrogen dioxide which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity.”
Now with humans restricted to their dwellings, the birds and the beasts are coming out of hiding and returning to regain their territory. The cruise ships are gone and there are reports of dolphins reclaiming the waters. It is said that on any given day, there were than 25,000 aircraft that used to dominate the skies and they are now gone. For the first time in decades, New Delhi, with its history of haze and dangerous pollution levels, boasts of a blue sky with scores of birds chirp endlessly. A video has emerged of a peacock strutting solitary and stately on the road amidst a densely populated colony of South Delhi. Such a beautiful sight!
With April 22 being Earth day, this is the best gift we can give back to the environment.
So Stay home, Stay Safe, Stay Positive. We will never get so much free time in our lifetime again! Utilize this time to do all the things we wanted to do but never had the time. Because once the dust settles, life will once again begin to pick up pace. And years later, when we sit down to tell stories to our children and grandchildren, we will talk about how we vanquished this virus, triumphed this isolation and came out stronger and healthier.