Dayanand reached the clubhouse. It was a smooth cycle ride from his home and the cool early morning breeze was inebriating. Since Covid, the roads got a much-needed respite from the congestion.
This club of the elite members of the locality was having their first meeting after two waves of the pandemic. It was Dayananad’s debut at the club. He joined due to the insistence of Joydeep, a retired banker, whom he had once met in the park.
As per the strict instruction of the club secretary Herojit, an ex-army man, Dayanand parked his cycle in the four-wheeler parking area. The cycle was maintaining social distance from both the cars on either side.
Dayanand met Joydeep at the entrance of the meeting hall and smiled. Once he did not get a response from Joydeep, he realized that his grin was invisible too, hiding behind his double face mask.
“You seem different,” Joydeep said.
“You too.” Dayanand was about to extend a hand to greet but got reminded of the pandemic protocols and instead folded both his arms across his chest tight.
“We all seem different with masks.” Herojit, who overheard their conversation, laughed aloud and invited them inside.
The hall was well decorated. Not only the chairs, even the marigold flowers and the balloons were maintaining social distance from each other. Dayanand took a seat at the end.
Purnendu, the club president, a retired priest, drew everybody’s attention by waving his hands.
“Our club logo, the ‘handshake’ symbol needs alteration. In the Covid era, it is dangerous and self-defeating.
“I propose ‘Namaste’ symbol,” Herojit said while doing a namaste.
“But there must be a gap between the two palms. The virus must not be allowed to move from one palm to the other”, Purnedu remarked.
“It is like breaking an electric circuit”, Vikrant, the only retired engineer in the club, quipped.
“Perfect. Next time we greet each other we can do like this.” Purnendu demonstrated a namaste keeping gap between two palms.
There was a round of applause.
Herojit asked scratching his head, “Should we clap? Here too two palms touch. Isn’t it?”
“The touch is instantaneous. No time for the virus to travel.” Purnendu explained.
“Even in the impact some virus might get killed”, Joydeep clapped loudly.
“Well, we need to alter our communication. Since the virus is spreading as we speak, we must minimize conversations and interact by gestures”, Purnendu continued.
“But our faces are already masked.” Rupesh, a retired corporate executive, quipped.
“Sure, but if you want to agree with something, you just nod. And if you want to disagree just shake your head sideways.” Purnendu responded.
“Sometimes you neither want to agree or disagree. Then?” Vijayam, a retired accountant, questioned.
“Then do a head bobble.” Herojit demonstrated with the gesture amidst laughter.
Purnedu concluded, “Do you like these ideas of gestures? I can see the professor, our new member, has started already implementing them by nodding profusely.”
Dayanand had dozed off on his chair.
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