06 August, 2021

Shuttered & Shattered

The economic toll that the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on Indians, especially the middle class and the poor, is as bad as the deaths and the sickness. And there’s uncertainty around a post-pandemic recovery.

Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee
Shuttered & Shattered

It was the direst season thus far—death bared its fangs from every corner, and the grim reaper went about its macabre business with ruthless efficiency. Many of us confronted ­mortality in ways that will have singed us for long and went through near-death experiences in the months of April and May this year, during the deathly second wave of COVID-19. Most lived in absolute terror, hearing and reading about the random madness of fatalities across the country. Some feared a final reckoning, an Armageddon; others wondered if Lord Shiva had descended from Mount Kailash to perform his tandav dance as a destroyer of the world. People died randomly, chaotically, irrationally and ­inexplicably—at homes, on the streets, in cars, and in hospital parking lots and receptions.

But all of us, with rare exceptions, experienced another form of dread over the past 16 months—a gut-wrenching decimation, bit by inexorable bit, of our financial securities. Our incomes and savings were hollowed out, then annihilated. We lived, and continue to exist, in times...

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