You can read this series on Medium as well: Link To Medium Series
YOUR GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL
Hey Homo Sapiens, ta-dah! Here I am SARS-CoV-2, known to you as Corona Virus. This is my travelogue.
Don’t quite remember when I was born on earth — memory’s a little hazy. But since some time I had been living inside animals like bats, civets, pangolins etc. They didn’t mind, I didn’t mind, we were all good.
Then in November of 2019, one of your fellow humans ate a bat. Or was it a pangolin? Not sure. Whichever animal it was, it gave me a ticket to your world. I hopped on for a jolly ride.
Hate me all you want, I was just following one of the commandments that all your religions hold in great regard — go forth and multiply, isn’t it? Exactly what you’ve been doing for thousands of years. Going forth and multiplying into billions while being the most destructive species on the planet. And it will take me a long long time before I reach, if ever, the scale of destruction you have wrought on earth — especially in the last two centuries.
So I don’t give a fig about your hate. Suck it up. I am having a good time by the way. As of today, I have established colonies in all corners of the world, Antarctica excluded. Killed more than ten thousand of your species and infected hundreds of thousands more. Life’s looking rosier than ever as I write this.
Since I am on a worldwide travel, I have decided to put my experiences down on paper. In a matter of months, hopping from country to country, I have seen so much of human life. From the way you reacted to my presence in your countries, in your neighbourhoods, in your families, in your homes, hospitals and bodies, I got to know so much about you my dear friends (or shall I say hosts?). Gathered so many story nuggets about you, developed so many insights.
This travelogue will talk all about it. About what I saw in your world, in your cities, in your gardens of good and evil. Prepare to see yourself through my unsympathetic eyes.
And learn to live with me. I plan to keep revisiting you for a long time, in one form or another. xoxo
FOSHAN, CHINA, 2002
The first time my family came in contact with you sapiens was when my bro SARS-CoV-1 sickened a guy in the November of 2002.
Don’t blame him! Last he knew he was happily napping inside a horseshoe bat. They were homeys in a cave in Yunnan, China. Nice life it was, nice and cold and dingy. And nothing to do with you sapiens! Nada!
Then he suddenly woke up and found himself in the windpipe of a farmer from Foshan. He had no clue how he got there. Certainly it wasn’t without some help from one or more members of your species.
Anyway, the more important point is that my brother had before him a new dish. So much of it. Huge cuboidal houses of red-brown epithelial food. It was like he was in a fairy tale, like your fairy tale Hansel and Gretel with its hut made of gingerbread and cake and candy. He was luckier than Hansel/Gretel. Coz he had not just one food hut in front of him, but billions of them delicious huts — cells in your language! No witch to stop him either*. Slurrrp!
(*The witches came later — antibodies — but he defeated them.)
What’s a hungry virus to do?
Of course he partied. Partied and gorged infecting the cells like it was the end of the world and made a billion copies of himself that partied and gorged no less.
The world didn’t end but the man’s life did. A few days later in First People’s Hospital of Foshan. Sorry.
None of your doctors could figure out what had killed the farmer. My brother eluded their efforts at pathogen discovery. Which was expected, so I don’t want to brag about it — you had never met our family before and didn’t recognise us. Fair enough.
But you guys had a big role to play in what came next. If my bro went on to cause pandemonium in many countries over the next few months, a lot of credit goes to the bureaucrats and politicians working for the Chinese government.
Sapiens are so utterly strange sometimes. What do you think? That if you ignore how the universe really functions, invent and believe stuff that has no empirical evidence, and cover up or explain away facts when they are plainly conflicting with your beliefs, the universe will magically change according to your wishes? You will lead happier lives? Do you think your ideologies, religions, cultures, personal or economic self-interests, your many fears and your egoistic selves, all inventions of your mind, will make the smallest of difference to nature’s immutable laws?
Look at me. I am a strand of genes —a large chain of Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, Uracil or Thymine molecules —inside a protecting covering. I am what the living world is, a living being is. Molecules linked to molecules linked to more molecules linked to even more molecules, thousands and millions and billions and trillions of them. Surviving on earth and making more and more copies of itself. That’s it.
I am essentially what you are. Except you are too full of yourself. And the reason why we viruses will continue to triumph over you from time to time till you stop being so full of yourself.
Anyway, as usual, you guys were too full of yourself and decided to hide information about my brother’s viral exploits from each other. While the Chinese government did work to stop my brother and his clones from infecting more people, it also discouraged the press from reporting on the epidemic and kept both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and its citizens outside of Guangdong province in dark.
On Jan 31st 2003, Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hospital in Guangzhou admitted a fishmonger named Zhou Zuofen, a super-spreader. In epidemiological terms, a super-spreader is someone who infects a large number of people when compared to a typical carrier of the disease.
We viruses obviously love super-spreaders. They are our beloved midwives and travel-agents xoxo. Like Zhou, who infected a total of thirty doctors and nurses and helped my nephews and nieces spread their metaphorical wings to nearby hospitals.
In human slang, my cold-weather loving CoV-1 bro was now on fire. ON FIRE, with a capital O and N and F and I and R and E.