“Enough of loved ones have already been lost, too many in fact”

‘Best thing is for people to take their own precautions because others are more concerned about business and the economy’

 A Conversation with Uncle Claus

* ‘The Earth has everything for man’s needs but not for his greed.
So true. Greed has no limits, and some are even prepared to kill for it’

This year again, braving all risks, Uncle Claus decided to come down to our tiny island to make the children happy. We took the opportunity to bounce some questions with him about the Covid situation and its exploitation by persons with venal intent. As usual, he gave us his pithy answers which should make all of us, from those who are in charge of the country to the concerned parties and stakeholders, open our eyes…

* Hi Uncle Claus! Am sure glad to see you again, though I wasn’t expecting you!

Why? Because of the Omicron variant that is sweeping across Europe? I did tell you when I was leaving last time that I’ll be here again this year too, whatever the bug does. So here I am my friend!

* You came knowing very well how everything got disrupted here – the economy, livelihoods, almost everything. And the kids have been facing a rough time with school closures and reopening, missing their friends, some even contracted Covid…

Yes I know, but you realise that things are pretty much the same all over, in all countries. Why, even those which achieved good control have had new bursts of Covid infection, despite quite good levels of vaccination. That’s true of Europe for sure.

* In fact, lots of kids were asking if Uncle Claus would still be visiting their homes this year because of travel restrictions.

That’s it, you see, all the more reason for me to come! They sure need cheering up. Haven’t they been confined at home for long periods doing online learning, and thus missing meeting their friends in person? That’s why I thought that I must absolutely come to bring some smiles to their faces. And also get meself some sunshine. Cold up there at the north pole you know. There’s still a good amount of snow despite the snow-cap receding because of global warming. But there will come a time when the snows will have melted completely. And that will be a problem for my image – no snow, so no sledge, my trademark.

* That’s serious Uncle, what will you do?

Oh we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it! It may happen literally for all you know because the seas will rise. Or I may have to travel by boat, ho ho… that will be fun!

* Well, I am in awe of your positive outlook. No wonder so many parents go to great lengths to protect their child’s belief in you…

Well, children often live in a make-believe world, so one more belief is no big deal for their imagination.

* I hear that some parents even fake footsteps in the middle of the night to convince their kids that Uncle Claus is placing presents under the tree.

Anything to keep these little guys happy!

* Still, kids are smart enough to deserve not being lied to about some things, Uncle.

Quite so. In fact there are many kids who have admitted to sneaking and finding out it’s their parents and not Santa who lay the gifts around the Xmas tree. But kids are not only smart, these days they are smarter! They keep the secret for themselves so as to maintain the magic live, especially if they have younger siblings. They don’t want to spoil the party as it were!

 * Uncle, aren’t you concerned about being in the highest risk group for Covid?

Not really, because I am virtual, isn’t it! So Mr Covid cannot do anything to me!

* But I guess that when landed here, they must have asked you to do the Covid test, right, to make sure you deliver your presents safely?

But you forget that I don’t follow the usual route. Or what you have been talking about down here regarding the stuff you need to treat Covid, the usual procedure. I come down the chimney, remember? Like some of your folks do to enter your Parliament, through the l’imposte (transom window) that’s what you say here no? Difference is that I bring presents, empty my pockets. Your guys do just the opposite: fill their pockets..They claim they are doing it for the public good… the national interest in their jargon.

* Wow, you seem to be quite up to date on happenings down below!

Well, shouldn’t I? I should, isn’t it so that I can be careful and not get across the wrong paths. Otherwise i may mysteriously disappear from view and only my remains found in some field! That would leave the children without their gifts and I don’t want this to happen.

* But this is happening almost everywhere. Much like the Covid waves the pandemic has also led to a wave of corruption-related activities… Millions have gone into the pockets of cronies, you know. What a shame!

You could say that again! A French writer (Alexandre Dumas Fils) said: ‘Les affaires ? C’est bien simple, c’est l’argent des autres.’ Looks like some people are taking it literally here!

* It reminds us of what the Mahatma said about man’s need and greed…

Yes, that the Earth has everything for man’s needs but not for his greed. So true. Greed has no limits, and some are even prepared to kill for it.

* Shame is a good thing because it’s said to help promote social cohesion, but what if people start losing the capacity to feel shame? That’s what seems to be happening nowadays!

Indeed, many things are done with impunity, and are shamelessly repeated. Ironically, those who engage themselves in these activities show no remorse whatsoever, and find convenient excuses to justify their evil deeds. Or refuse to give any answers when these are solicited in the proper forums.

* On another note, we are all pretty much worried about this bug not going away despite the vaccines and the booster shots. Aren’t you also worried, Uncle?

You bet I am! What I find alarming is that despite being vaccinated many people are getting infected by the bug’s descendants, and then they say you need booster shots and repeat booster shots. But how often and for how long? Lifelong? Sometimes I wonder if it’s all about making money by Big Pharma!

 * Most people you’ll meet here or elsewhere will tell you that they have close friends or family who have died of Covid.

Yes, that’s right. And I’ve learnt that you have had a big surge in cases after people crowded into public places, malls and beaches in the first week of November bridging over the three public holidays that you had. And that your health services couldn’t cope and many people have died, ranking you among the highest in the world. That’s really bad.

* Now we are having more holidays coming, and borders opened whereas other countries are tightening down restrictions because of the Omicron. What are we to do?

I agree, it’ a big conundrum. Best thing is for people to take their own precautions because others are more concerned about business and the economy. Important no doubt, but now it’s a question of life and death.

Better to be safe than sorry I should say, you don’t need another wave. Enough of loved ones have already been lost, too many in fact. So the rest of you should take better care of yourselves. Don’t take undue risks I would advise.

 * When you come to think of it, all that because of some lab experiments in Wuhan, or so we are told, but we may never get down to the bottom of this matter.

Ask that guy Dr Anthony Fauci who is now advising President Joe Biden. Some groups in the US have been asking for him to be sacked for misguiding the country. He may hold the clue to this sordid story.

* Where do you think all this will lead to? Do you foresee and end soon to this pandemic?

Honestly, I do not know and had better not speculate. But I sure wish that the sooner it does the better, especially for the children.

They really need to be back to school safely and make up for all that they have lost in terms of learning but also as regards their emotional development. They do need to be with their friends, that’s the way for them to grow and develop properly.

I think we are all agreed on that. So you guys must really work hard towards making schools a safe place for them, get them away from these screens. It’s been too much! They need the real world.

* So I assume you will definitely be coming again next year?

Of course I will!. Now let me go back to enjoy the dwindling snow before it’s too late! See you next Christmas my friend! And enjoy yourself too!

* Published in print edition on 24 December 2021

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