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Unforgettable Lessons of Literature from Pandemic Covid -19

 


Unforgettable Lessons of Literature from Pandemic Covid -19

While it has given a tough time it has revised many forgotten things

Dr. Mudasir Ahmad Gori

Guest Faculty

Department of English

Directorate of Distance Education

Maulana Azad National Urdu University

Telangana, India

Abstract:

            The worldwide lockdown imposed at the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic created a dilemma over the continuation of on-campus classes for students’ right from kindergarten to University pupils. The semester got interrupted midway and learners were missing out on classroom lessons. Administrations around the globe deliberated on how to keep the teaching-learning process going during this difficult time and it did not take long before everyone unanimously agreed on conducting classes online in the backdrop of the pandemic prevention protocol. A host of apps was readily dished out for this purpose, and deployed for the entire student population worldwide. The mere mention of the terms 'Halo' or 'crown' creates an aura of wonder and a sense of delight in the human mind. However, the name 'Corona' derived from ancient Greek referring to the characteristic appearance of the particles of the eponymous virus reminiscent of a crown or wreath, has struck fear and panic deep in  the hearts of people.

 

Keywords: pandemic; crises; teaching, revisiting; new normal

Introduction:

This global lockdown of Corona virus pandemic has put under restriction more than a third of the world's population. Mandatory quarantines, curfew, closures of schools and non-essential businesses, work from home directives, ban on gatherings of more than two people, and travel restrictions with the closing of international borders have left the world struggling with a sudden change in day to day activities. After more than two weeks of strict lockdown in the subcontinent, people are craving for the lifting of the ban. Confined to their homes, people want to get back to the routine lives they had been leading pre-Corona. Meanwhile, the real heroes- first responders and doctors have been tirelessly serving humanity to contain the spread of the deadly disease worldwide. With everyday-life thrown off track, there is a great deal to be learned from this; every ordeal comes with its own set of lessons and this is no different.

The first thing we all learned is that we could limit our use of resources- natural and otherwise, to the minimum. The temporary closure of businesses has given us the gift of the discovery of our own resourcefulness, where we realize that the rich do not owe any superiority over the poor for the preference of obtaining essential commodities. Having loads of money in bank accounts would by no means be a ticket to enjoy preferential treatment during an epidemic. When something as deadly as Corona virus strikes, it is as merciless to the rich as it is to the poor. No rich has ever been historically recorded to have bribed disease or death into sparing him. We have also learnt that privilege extends only to the events we have control over. What's beyond human control does not differentiate between the rich and the poor.

            With more than three hundred million students enrolled in on-campus institutions in India, a plethora of options have come up for the continuation of their lessons online. A majority of students in India were exposed to digital learning only when they needed to gather more information than what the textbook was offering, or as a complementary accessory to the education being imparted in the classroom. From searching for solutions for snags encountered in school or college projects to reading current and advanced course topics to competing in online academic quizzes and contests, students have done it all. But they had not experienced online education as full-fledged as it is now. The first couple of days of digital learning during this time had been riddled with a lot of hiccups where most of the learners and teachers had to get adjusted to downloading compatible apps, signing up and setting preferences.

            India is the second largest market for online courses after the US, and e-learning has only grown in popularity in leaps and bounds. Higher education students have had, one way or the other, been using this option for long, but the majority of enthusiastic learners are from schools who have joined online classes just recently in view of the lockdown. Students belonging to the newer tech-savvy generation are enjoying the benefits of online classrooms which offer a wide range of feasible features and options. For them, it is a break from the regular face-to-face interaction and campus-based learning, a chance to explore the recent trends in technology and putting to better use digital resources than just playing games and watching short music videos. From submitting assignments to meeting deadlines to becoming digitally responsible is what kids are learning from the prevailing situation.

            Though attuned to the traditional method of classroom learning, the zealous student community quickly adapted to this novel method of attending classes. The interesting part is that instructors accustomed to the conventional method of teaching in a brick-and-mortar institution have also easily accommodated this contemporary approach in their routines. Nevertheless, everyone soon got used to this mode of teaching and learning, and there has been no looking back ever since. The online classroom model has both teachers and learners exploring for better utilisation of digital resources and finding effective ways to exploit the full potential of the one link that is keeping them connected during these difficult times. Amid network outages, connection errors and device glitches, there is an entire generation of students who is keen to continue learning lessons, and a clan of teachers going the extra mile to ensure that it happens.

            Though network carriers have seen a surge in data usage, not all students get to experience fast network speeds; many have access only to the slower and older generations of mobile telecommunication standards. If it is a family of teachers, then there would be an equal number of devices connected simultaneously, each trying to find a corner to settle in for a focused teaching session, while the children of the house vie for time slots for accessing the limited number of gadgets available at home. In the middle of all this chaos, there is an unwavering interest in academics that keeps flowing from resolute students and an immeasurable amount of devotion from instructors. There is no waning of this spark and there is no stopping them from teaching and learning.

            From nursery kids learning rhymes online to PhD scholars defending their theses in virtual setups for viva, the digital framework has helped take students their academics forward. Though considered a temporary arrangement to be followed until the lockdown ends, digital classrooms are here to stay. Online learning has now become the only mode of study as long as the 'work from home' directive continues. Post-normality, it will remain a favourite and a supplement to face-to-face interaction. What this technology has to proffer to the young and old generations alike is the ease of access, the sea of options and a wide range of available preferences.

            Here's hoping that students complete their academic year and continue the learning process without interruption.

             As the world enters the fourth month of the spread of the virus and is still grappling with the havoc it has created, it is worth visiting a few overlooked ideas centering around the concepts of peace, tranquility and resourcefulness. A few truths have been acknowledged which were awaiting long overdue recognition.

            What this outbreak has shown us is that nobody can fight fate- what is destined to happen will happen. Fortunes or misfortunes find their way right through anything. When nature takes its course, there's no stopping it. But amid all this chaos, the lockdown has taught us to appreciate the little things in life that we had overlooked for long, and the big things in life which were taken for granted since the beginning of time, so to say. Before the outbreak of the pandemic, most of us had stopped acknowledging the significance of family and the comfort and support they provide us. But now we have begun to actually hang out with family more. Movement bans have forced us to discover how nice people in the family are. Instead of hurrying to leave the house and go meet acquaintances for idle gossip over a cup of tea at the cafe round the corner, we have learnt to devote time to family. Also, we have learnt to know the value of home-cooked meals and to appreciate the culinary skills members of our family possess, which had been overshadowed by our desires to dine out to satiate our ever increasing appetite for piquant foods.

             Post-Corona, the world has witnessed that people can actually focus on what's really important than just the mundane. We all can survive without expensive holidays, cruises, lavish parties and a whole lot of other indulgences. We have learnt that being content is a luxury we all can afford. We also learnt that we can actually do well without maliciously speaking about others, or being spitefully critical in others' absence. This has also taught us that we human beings have a higher purpose in life than just idle talk and backbiting. We have also learned that the world can live without war, without the urge to establish territories and without the need for recognition of supremacy. The world has also learned that the lockdown in certain parts of the world affecting daily lives is just a fraction of what people of Syria, Palestine and Kashmir have experienced over the last few decades.

            Also, this period had taught us to develop hobbies other than just binge watching series after series on our favourite streaming apps. We learnt that human beings are capable of good things. We have learned to appreciate the quiet and peace around us. We have learned that humanity takes the front seat during difficult times and distinction of religion is not a hindrance in spreading love. Also, not all wars are fought in the battlefield, with weapons. When it's an invisible enemy, the war is fought from within the confines of our homes, protecting ourselves and the human race. In these difficult times, the world has witnessed a wave of short clips and videos by concerned netizens urging friends and family to stay indoors till the danger subsides.    In these difficult times, we have also learned that not all hope is lost, neither kindness is dead. We have witnessed compassionate souls go the extra mile to make sure that the needy don't struggle for square meals.

            We have learnt that wildlife too has a right to the Jungle. We had ventured and settled into their territory for so long that the lockdown prompted them to stroll down deserted city streets in bewilderment. We have also learned that union is strength, no matter people's religious beliefs. We have also learnt that it is not the survival of the fittest; it is survival of the kindest.

Also we have learned that life can go on even if it slows down. W. H. Davies had more than a century ago in his poem 'Leisure' written:

WHAT is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare?

One hundred and ten years later, his grievance finally is redressed in the most unexpected way.

Works Cited

Frank, M. Snowden. Epidemics and Society, From the Black Death to the Present. Cambridge: 2019.

Mark, Honigsbaum.  The Pandemic Century, One Hundred Years of Panic, Hysteria, and Hubris. Penguin: 2019

Slovaj,Zizek. Pandemic. Covid-19 Shakes the World. 2020.

Steven, Taylor. The Psychology of Pandemics, Preparing for the Next Global Outbreak of Infectious Disease.  Orient Blackswan: 2019