MINTING MONEY IN CORONA TIMES
By Neel Anil Panicker
“Look, this is how I see it. Like Or for not, we have to live with this menace. So why not make this coexistence easy,” said Shefali as looked through the computer screen at her motley group of participants.
A few raised brows were the cue for her to take her thesis to the next level.
“Treat the covid19 like your ally, a new partner you are entering into a contract with.”
A hand rose up from among the seminarists.
“Excuse me, but ma’am, why would anyone willfully enter into any kind of contract or relationship with as dangerous an enemy as this deadly contagion”?
Shefali smiled and adjusted the rim of her spectacles. She knew this was coming; had anticipated some smart alec with a freshly minted MBA degree, eager as well as desperate a she were to reveal to the world his more found intelligence would come up with such a concern,, if not genuine but at least to impress his co-participants, quite a few of which were of his age, the tottering twenties and smart. city need women who spoke in that oh so annoying fake American accent that the young upwardly mobile pick up by binging a few episodes of Two and a Half Men or a House of Cards or a rerun of that perennial American TV staple Friends.
“Look, what you said is a very valid question and here is the answer for that. For the past few months, we have witnessed the havoc caused by this virus. Despite the best efforts of the best doctors and scientists across the globe, there is still no vaccine in the market that can be termed as an effective antidote, a fool proof cure against this new strain of the China originated virus. Meanwhile, world over, the numbers of the dead and the dying keep shooting north. Another frightening reality is that though the world had been under lockdown for over two months, it cannot any longer afford to do so. There are factories to be run, projects to be executed, shops and offices that need to function to ensure the economy is up and running. Man needs to step and and start working, start producing, start meeting and start contacting and contracting…in short we human beings need to get on with the everyday mundane business of life so that we are able to meet our daily needs.”
At this point, Shefali paused for a moment and tool a deep breath even as she surveyed her Sunday morning ‘virtual’audience who had joined her by paying a paltry ‘participation fee of Rs 500 only. Her practised eyes spotted anxious ridden yet expectant visage s. A sweep through the screen told her that they were around 10 if them. Ten among 30 participants. Not a bad score, she reminded herself.
Putting on the same sanguine tone she had started with, she continued, only this time her voice having greater purpose and determination.
“So, friends, this is what I propose. Let us today, each one of us make a contract with this virus. Let us pledge ourselves to a safer, better, healthier selves. Let us tell this modern day evil and here, my friends, this is what we say to this enemy of ours: Ok, I get it. You are out to kill whoever cones in your path. Ok, we won’t fight, and that’s simply because we can’t fight you. So, here’s the deal—you, Mr Covid19, you carry on with your deadly intent, the killing machine that your are, you go on and keeping infecting men, women, and children, and keep filling out hospitals and morgues. But, you touch only the vulnerable. You infect only the weak, and by that I mean, those of us who have a very susceptible, weak immunity system. So…”
A middle aged man, an executive, one most likely to be a banker or one dealing with finances, also one belonging to the group Shefali had earmarked as the
nervous, anxiety ridden but eager category, raised his hand.
“Ma’am, please just tell us what we should do. We will do anything to stop being the next victim of this corona virus.”
The note of desperation was not lots on the other seminarists.
A sea of equally scared and anxious faces lit up the computer screen.
Shefali smiled inwardly His fishing expedition was reaching its grand finale. The bait was in place. Now, it was time to hook the fish.
With measured confident stressed out syllabic tones, she spelled out the contract, “
Friends, I hereby shall through my fourteen day ‘Say Yes To Life, No To Covid19’
programme build your immunity levels to the highest degree possible. My intensive two week, 2 hour daily, 5 days a week, specialised ‘Conquer Virus with Shefali Chaaya’ programme will guarantee that you will be able to, for the rest of your lives, step out of our homes. meet people. step into offices, shopping complexes, malls, trains. plains and in short what you please without ever fearing that you will get infected with the deadly virus. My intensive, exhaustive 40 hour course will make you ‘life ready.”
This time, even she had finished her last sentence, the claps were resounding, and they came from all corners of her computer screen.
“We are in, ma’am. Please tell us how to enrol?”—a chorus of voices burst out like a long retrained dam that’s suddenly decided it can hold on no more.
It was time for Shefali to reap in the rewards.
Within the next hour, her bank account had swelled up by a handsome rupees one lac.
Altogether, 20 participants had signed up; at the rate of Rs 5000 apiece, it was not a bad day at office for M&s. Shefali Chaaya, dismissed accountant but now enjoying her new ‘reinvented’ life as a much in demand ‘World renowned Immunity Maximiser Yoga Guru’.