The pandemic has so far made its way in on all fronts. The health systems, economies, the political front, education, the list goes on. A single aspect of it, however, is perhaps a silent killer in the long run; not in a literal sense though. The one aspect of it I am talking about is touch, the sense of touch. The sensing of the senses, the very basic need of every one of us humans is perhaps transforming into another form; one could say, another layer. It’s not in danger. Not anymore. (digitalisation killed it much earlier anyway). “I’ve lost touch with reality” isn’t a cliche any longer because let’s be honest, what is reality, how far reachable is it now and what does it look like? Some are “clinging” to its final strings. It’s waning in its vigour but there’s no guarantee how it’ll look like when it returns, and “if” it returns to the “normal” we want it, not the normal it presents itself in.

Photo by Sue Huan

The reality you and I see now is multifold: the world as I described earlier (the one with pandemic in it). The world without the pandemic in it (sounds simplistic: ok, good. That’s what we want). The world as we’ll have post-pandemic (but a world constantly being compared to what it used to look like). The world post-pandemic but still facing its old problems that were de-prioritized during the pandemic (famine, unemployment, civil movements–wars, ecological and environmental collapse and so on–remember, they’re not gone, they’re swept under the carpet for now.) It’s multifold in that it can shape-shift from what we want it to be to what it turns out to be, or how “it” wants it to be. There’s already the anxiety of loss of touch (as it was the premise of this short post). Communities will lose touch even further, and even when a vaccine comes out in the hands of medical practitioners, we will still have to maintain “social distancing”. It’s a metaphorical way of seeing ourselves now that we’ve presented us too close to other species. That’s how it all started after all.

Photo by Kevin Ramdhun

Patient “zero” was not socially or physically far from the other species. Disconnect to connect, but now, disconnect to disconnect. Or rather, disconnect to connect in a different way. Loss of touch, too, is metaphorical. There’s plenty to touch in this moment. I won’t list them, but will name them as they come to mind: touching a loved one; touching a loved one before they leave their earthly life in an ICU; touching a friend; touching a pet; touching objects. The paranoia of losing touch as a result of an improper touch is that silent killer I spoke of here earlier. It’ll stay with us, as we will stay with it, as all those at the time of the Black Plague stayed with it till the end. I’ll be writing about this later. 

Enjoy the touch for now. A