Tom Hanks and his actor-singer wife of 31 years, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for coronavirus and when I first read it, I posted a mock-horror emoji on Facebook saying “Mr. Rogers?’.
That references his last film, It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, which anyone with half a brain and a love for the movies would have seen, so if you haven’t, you fall into the ‘other’ category for me.
This was before I actually checked out his tweet on the subject, and reading it, I thought, Dayem, that is egg-zackly how Fred Rogers would have handled it, with gentleness, kindness and a completely non-alarmist approach. Which is precisely what we need in these days of fear and trembling.
Here’s what Hanks tweeted: Hello Folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive.
Well now. What to do next. The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated, for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach to it, no?
Have you ever read anything so charming, so matter-of-fact and so right? I know I have not. It’s all been Omigod did you hear? Coronavirus is now in the CITY, okay, Pune, but two of them have it here and they’re OLD and don’t you think it’s better not to come out at all, I mean look at the roads, it’s taken me 30 per cent less time to reach office and even that is half-empty these days and what do you think, is it true we all have higher immunity than the rest of the world, I mean, looks at SARS and then MERS and we were fine my grandmother says even the Asian flu had little effect, have you brought enough groceries to last you for a month who wants to keep going out for a tube of toothpaste though I draw a line at ransacking shops for toilet paper and this morning a friend rang up and told me that facemasks he had bought six months ago for Rs.390 are now selling for Rs. 5,000, SAME brand and this is such a dirty, filthy country with everyone spitting and defecating all over the place and in the locals you travel with your face in someone’s armpit for god’s sake, omigod omigod we’re all going to die I just KNOW it…
“To play things right as is needed in the world right now”. And “for as long as public health and safety requires”. Two sentiments desperately needed in this world crazed by a self-centred regard for oneself that discounts everyone else.
Yet it is all that is required to help us get through this tough time. This applies to the media as well, especially social media where all the misinformation and the alarmist rubbish is flying around at warp speed.
At this rate, if coronavirus doesn’t get you, WhatsApp will. So chill, and if you have a cold and some body chills, recognise them for what they are. Otherwise, if the condition persists and if you are in Mumbai, get you to Kasturba Hospital for a diagnostic test.
We will survive this. Never fear.