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[Mahend Gungapersad] While waiting for better days, I am reminded of...

Jeudi 26 Mars 2020

25 years ago.....

I still reminisce the first day I had to teach Samuel Beckett's, "Waiting for Godot" at the MGI. I wanted my Upper Six Arts students to understand the whole notion and tension of 'waiting' before I started teaching them the play.

I sent an attendant to the class to inform the students that I would be coming soon. What I did? I went to the rector's office and confined myself there. I asked the Attendant to tell the students at every interval of 10 to 15 minutes that I would come soon. I kept the students waiting for two periods. They kept waiting.

In the office I narrated the synopsis of the play to the rector and the deputy rector. We had a lively and animated literary discussion even if both were Biology and Mathematics educators themselves. Both loved literature so much.

Next time I had my class, I asked the students to relate their experiences of waiting for me. Waiting can be agonising. Waiting can be painful. Waiting for a fixed period of time is fine. But waiting for an unknown duration can be mentally and psychologically stressful. I wanted the students to grasp these notions and they realised that waiting can lead to boredom and frustration, mood swings etc which are the main themes of Waiting for Godot.

Here I am not going to indulge in a discussion on Existentialism or try to interpret who could possibly be Godot. I managed to make my studentst enjoy a complex play like Waiting for Godot and empathise with the ordeals of the characters. I was happy with that.

My point today is to understand the whole notion of waiting for the confinement and curfew to be over. It is as difficult to understand the invisible enemy which is lurking around as it is to understand who is Godot.

Some are saying that the virus is a curse on humanity for our evil deeds and our deviation from the path of righteousness. A few are saying it is an economic warfare. Still others are saying that it is a social and economic leveller and breaks barriers between social classes.

Different people are giving different interpretations to the pandemic which has seriously upset our lifestyle and ways of thinking. In Waiting for Godot, there is a character called Lucky, a servant, who is tied subserviently to his master, Pozzo (the capitalist). Lucky is a bizarre character who talks in an incongruous manner. Many of us are incongruous. We are uncertain. We do not know what will happen next. We are trying to avoid the invisible We are waiting for the unknown. We sadly realise that To wait is to exist and to exist we have to wait.

We are talking a little more these days. We are talking to others but more so to our inner selves. Are we intelligible or incongruous like Lucky. Even Vladimir and Estragon talk in broken sentences as if their thought processes have been chopped. Nothing is clear. Nothing is certain. This reminds me of Macbeth where we are like

... a walking shadow; a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing....

Waiting for the lockdown to end is a nerve-wracking exercise. No outdoor activity kills the spirit slowly. The invisible enemy has confined us in a limited space. For how long? We have no idea.

But we know that there will be a tomorrow. There is hope. There is a silver lining in every cloud. Nature is breathing fresh air again. The waters of Venice are blue again. The biggest cities of the world are pollution free after a long time.

Human beings have suddenly realized the importance of proper personal hygiene. They are washing hands, they are sneezing and greeting differently! There is social distancing but families have huddled up. People are taking more time than usual over lunch and dinner. Work schedules have been altered. The frontliners are barring the assault of the virus to their best. The recalcitrants are there to make life difficult. Those with empty stomachs are groaning. But everyone is waiting for things to be back to normal.

There are new social behaviours. Now we realise the importance of each other. We are so intricately linked. While we depend so much on one another, yet we are scared that the OTHER may be contaminated. We are getting closer to dear ones by getting further from society.

Waiting to hear the next news update is as daunting as to hearing the death toll in the world and in Mauritius. Waiting for Godot left Vladimir and Estragon, two tramps in the wilderness just like waiting for Covid19 to retreat from our landscape. Waiting for better days ahead may lead us to self introspection but some are so insane that they will never embrace sanity no matter how hard they try using mental sanitizers.

I hope these days of confinement lead us to a new realm of compassion because we have to interiorise the fact that survival of the fittest is an amoral paradigm and we need to try live and let live. We cannot aspire for a bright sunshine by burning the rainbow on the horizon.

Waiting for better days ahead.

A propos de l'auteur : Mahend Gungapersad est un député travailliste élu au No 6 (Grand-Baie/Poudre d’Or).  Il est enseignant de littérature anglaise de profession.

Rédigé par E. Moris le Jeudi 26 Mars 2020

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