Shivani hurried inside her house, heaving a sigh of relief. It was evening; she had done enough work today at the CA office where she was an articled clerk. Feeling hungry and humming to herself, she walked into the kitchen, opened the shelf and took out some cookies. She turned around, and then.....well, nothing could have prepared her for this: her insides turned cold, even as she let out a gasp of all-consuming terror. The packet of cookies fell on the floor.
Before her, stood a looming figure: black-hooded, faceless and foreboding.
"Wh-Who's this?" she stammered, her heart beating furiously. Was this some freaking joke? The neighbouring children sometimes played pranks on her. But even they cannot glide above the ground like this ghostly figure was.
"I'm your friend....." said the ghost in an unexpectedly sweet voice that defied its sinister form.
Friend? Gliding and ghostly? Scared the wits of out of me! Shivani thought, mustering every bit of courage not to faint.
"Oh, don't worry....." the ghost assured, stepping forwards. "I was wandering around and suddenly saw you taking cookies out of the shelf....."
Oh My Ghost! Shivani thought amusedly, a hungry ghost? I do hope he doesn't have humans for snacks!
"Um.....Mr Ghost," Shivani muttered politely, attempting to please the ghost, "You can have all the cookies you want. Even the hakka-noodles....."
"No, No....." the ghost chuckled merrily, "I ain't hungry, my friend. You just forgot the rule and I glided in to remind."
"I-I didn't get you, O' Gliding Ghost....." Shivani said anxiously.
"Well, this is also known as the ‘Grandma Rule'," the Ghost offered good-humouredly, waving his arms like a bird flapping its wings.
"Grandma Rule?" She was even more perplexed and intrigued; a strange ghost reminding some strange Grandma rule? Things were getting really strange this evening.
The Ghost went on, "Yeah, almost all Grandmas of our nation followed this ever-golden rule and passed them on to generations: Wash your hands before whatever you do and wherever you go. You came home and went to kitchen without following your Grandma Rule.
Shivani couldn't have agreed more. Yeah, this peculiar Ghost, whoever he was, was right. Shivani's Grandma was very strict about this rule. Anyone not following this golden rule would have to face the glare of her Grandma.
"Yeah.....you are right, O' Good Ghost?" Shivani agreed, her fear of this ghost abating slightly.
"First of all, I ain't a Good Ghost?" The Ghost said. "And not even a bad one!" He chuckled merrily, "Call me ‘Anti-Corona' or ‘AC', deployed from the Department of Cleanliness and Safety from the city of Heaven. My job is to remind all the humans what you have forgotten."
"Oh....." Shivani mouthed, comprehension dawning on. His name rang a bell. Yes, the outbreak of Corona, a deadly virus, had taken the world by storm. The number of infected cases was on the rise across countries. Hygiene and Safety measures were of utmost importance.
"Remember these rules, my friend: Avoid any large gathering, maintain a social distance, greet with ‘Namaste' instead of handshakes or hugs, wash fruits & vegetables thoroughly, avoid public transport as far as possible, do breathing exercise in your home, consider taking immunity supplements (like Giloy in Ayurveda) for boosting immunity, tell senior citizens to stay in home and walk around home instead of walking in the community garden, and keep washing hands and elbows with soap/sanitizers almost every hour. And yes, do apply the "Pray from Heart" Rule.
"Pray from Heart, Mr. AC?" Shivani asked, though she could figure out what it was.
"At times of inexplicable adversity, pray from heart. Yes you may feel helpless by seeing so many people suffering across the world. You may feel that you cannot take any helping ‘action'. But that's not true. Praying is the most profound act of compassion and benevolence you can perform. Praying from heart and soul will reach out to others, irrespective of the geographical distance, and will guide everyone in this tough time. Praying can spring out miraculous solutions.
"In absolute agreement, Mr. AC," Shivani concurred whole heartedly, feeling overwhelmed, "Will remember all these rules, and will pray from all the heart for showing light to all. But, Mr. AC, will this tough time pass soon?
"Absolutely," Mr AC spoke with assuring conviction, "Impermanence is the permanent rule of Nature. Happy and Healthy times will soon embrace us."