Vocal Regulations!



They are safe at home—he, his wife and their two boys. So far, that is to say. Their house is in a red zone—declared by the government due to the spread of the novel Coronavirus or COVID-19. For nearly two months now they have continued to stay at home, at times working from home and he has been very strict lately, not allowing his young sons to go out at any cost. He has heard that young people, even if infected, can get on well without even showing symptoms and recover quite easily, but the problem is the possibility of their infecting elderly persons who are prone to having serious complications if infected. Naturally so then, he thinks, why grandsons are separated physically from grandparents. Their rations come mostly from online orders. At times, he has to go out to the fruit or vegetable vendors for the odd and fresh requirement.   

Things amuse him; although he had never seen such unprecedented times or heard about in his lifetime, and that humankind is going through a critical time. Wearing a mask is compulsory while venturing out; rightly so, he supports, because the goddamned virus thrives on human droplets. It all boils down to the plain fact that human beings can no longer open their mouths freely and unchecked. He talks to a stakeholder through a mask and the other one interacts back through his/her mask thus preventing scattering of the droplets while sound waves do reach them both, though a bit muffled. However, that is still not enough, there has to be at least one and half meters of social distancing between them so that the droplets somehow escaping the masks fail to reach the targets.

He remembers his language teacher very clearly now; the teacher was notorious for his split-wide mouth spitting out the words, and he being a front-bencher was exposed to the droplets sometime landing right on his cheeks. In those innocent times the mouth-openings or floating spit particles hardly bothered anyone. Now, the droplet syndrome has landed on humankind like a bombshell. No wonder, he muses on, the schools and colleges are closed indefinitely: just imagine the free-flow of droplets, invisible or not, oozing out from the spirited teacher and all those of the students in equally spirited response. This is serious man, don’t make fun, he cautions himself; but his musings cannot be checked—even in the times of rigorous checks and controls.  

The crux of the problem is opening of the mouth, he thinks more seriously now. Why, this is going to affect every field of human activity in future: even in small allowed gatherings of the business or homely or the religious kind the main speaker will not be able to indulge freely in opening or demonstrating his/her mouth cavities; in entertainment shows the actors will have to restrain themselves from mouthing or lip-centric exercises, confounded because in their scenes before the camera they cannot possibly wear masks;  in restaurants/bars, even after strictly following social distancing norms, there will be precarious moments when customers let go of the masks for the pleasure of eating/drinking and allowing words regurgitate through the holy mess of saliva, food and drinks; debates or petty quarrels in any form of public transport will have to be guarded strictly against and even in one-to-one encounters caution must be exercised as to how much of mouth-opening is being adhered to.

A profound question comes to his mind now: why humankind has been singled out for this? Have the human beings been talking too much? Well, he reasons, more than being talkative the human beings perhaps have been indulging in too much of needless and harmful talking—leading to all kinds of unrest most of the times. He recoils back in wonder: wow! look at the animal world—all animals, birds, insects are totally spared from this regulation; the animals are really freaking out everywhere, in all sites mostly infected by human invaders, and are opening their mouths in ecstatic boundless joy, in their word-less natural sound waves; even the mosquitoes at his home now finding exquisite pleasure in searching and hunting out their victims.  Well, at his reasoning best, perhaps humankind has imposed untold torture and misery on the unsuspecting animal world over the centuries, and so now is paying for it.

He turns his attention to the television screen for the latest updates. He looks fondly at his wife sitting quietly by his side and at his two sons busy with their smart-phones. He smiles in satisfaction: he can still open his mouth freely here. So far, that is to say. 

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