I have always been very fond of pens. But, my taste and sensibilities have changed over the years. I have been in love with ball point pens, gel pens, roller ball pens, pilot pens and use & throw pens at various stages of my life. When any of my relatives asked my choice for a gift, I would invariably ask for a pen.
When I prepared for my engineering entrance exam, I would use cheap use & throw pens and would practice solving problems on the blank side of used papers. My father would bring loads of these waste papers from office. I would judge my preparation for the exam by looking at the number of used pens and the stacks of paper I had filled.
Using fountain pen was mandatory in our school. At that time, I would crave for ball point pens as they would help me write faster in exams. Fountain pens leaked a lot creating blue spots on my fingers and sometimes on my clothes.
But, ever since I became a salaried professional, I have started writing with fountain pens. I yearn for that old world charm of writing mindfully on a piece of paper in this age of touchscreen.
About 25 years ago, my father had taken me to the best stationery shop of the small town that we lived in. My heart had gone out to a fountain pen priced at Rupees 120. But, my father bought me a much cheaper pen as the pen was not affordable and I might have ruined it quickly.
The image of that pen is still imprinted on my mind. I have tried to look for it but have been unable to find it.
Today, I bought a nice German pen priced at Rupees 2,700 for myself. As I write this piece in my notebook with the ultra smooth German pen, my heart pines for that wonderful pen from my childhood.
This is one of the worst man-made crisis in recent history.
There is something wrong with this world, and gravely, astonishingly wrong with our moral indifference to this daily denial of humanity to others. How is it that we, corporeal beings, equally vulnerable to pain and anguish, allow others to experience states that we will not accept for a minute? How can we accept a process of self-formation that simply fails to make us moral? How can a nation be built without sahahridyata (shared feelings, empathy)?How can a social structure exist that renders superfluous those very people who put their life and blood in maintaining it? Are we engaged in an archaic ritual of violence which we know to be incomplete without the sacrifice of the most precious, the most indispensable amongst us?
“Viktor Frankl’s Lost Lectures on Moving Beyond Optimism and Pessimism to Find the Deepest Source of Meaning.”
Let us imagine a man who has been sentenced to death and, a few hours before his execution, has been told he is free to decide on the menu for his last meal. The guard comes into his cell and asks him what he wants to eat, offers him all kinds of delicacies; but the man rejects all his suggestions. He thinks to himself that it is quite irrelevant whether he stuffs good food into the stomach of his organism or not, as in a few hours it will be a corpse. And even the feelings of pleasure that could still be felt in the organism’s cerebral ganglia seem pointless in view of the fact that in two hours they will be destroyed forever. But the whole of life stands in the face of death, and if this man had been right, then our whole lives would also be meaningless, were we only to strive for pleasure and nothing else — preferably the most pleasure and the highest degree of pleasure possible. Pleasure in itself cannot give our existence meaning; thus the lack of pleasure cannot take away meaning from life, which now seems obvious to us.
As I step out of my flat, I see no one roaming on the society street. The cars are parked and most flats have their lights on. People like me burrowed up, have become invisible.
On barren highways, there is a procession of people waking. It is not a celebration, but tired families trying to reach their village on foot. I never could fathom that such large number of immigrants toil hard in the underbelly of large cities enabling them to operate every day.
The city under lock-down for months has started spewing out these invisible people. Their suffering has etched out a scar on the nation’s psyche. And scars serve as sad reminders.
This point cannot be overstated: The pandemic patchwork exists because the U.S. is a patchwork to its core. New outbreaks will continue to flare and fester unless the country makes a serious effort to protect its most vulnerable citizens, recognizing that their risk is the result of societal failures, not personal ones. “People say you can’t fix the U.S. health system overnight, but if we’re not fixing these underlying problems, we won’t get out of this,” says Sheila Davis of Partners in Health. “We’ll just keep getting pop-ups.”
But he has always played with other people’s money and other people’s lives. “The president was probably in a position to make riskier decisions in life because he was fabulously rich from birth,” says Murphy. “But it’s also true he has hada reputation for risk not backed up by reality. His name is on properties he doesn’t own. We think of him as taking risk in professional life, but a lot of what he does is lend his name to buildings with risks taken by others. He’s built an image as a risk taker, but it’s not clear how much risk he’s taken.”
The results of his initial trial have yet to be replicated. “I think what he secretly hopes is that no one will ever be able to show anything,” Molina told me. “That all the trials conducted on hydroxychloroquine will not be able to even reach a conclusion of no efficacy.” In recent weeks, Raoult has in fact tempered his claims about the virtues of his treatment regimen. The published, peer-reviewed version of the final study noted that another two patients had died, bringing the total to 10. Where the earlier version called the drugs “safe and efficient,” they were now described merely as “safe.”
He has shown flickers of what appears to be doubt. In one interview, Raoult quoted Camus, from the fatalistic coda of “The Stranger,” hoping that “on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators, and that they should greet me with howls of hatred.”