By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai, March 29 (IANS) A fortnight after giving a rocking new medical anthem to the country, 'Go, Corona Go', Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale has retreated a couple of steps, albeit temporarily.
Into the 'lockdown' -- with the rest of the country as the COVID-19 pandemic rages wild outside -- Athawale has chosen to divide the extra time between his ministerial responsibilities, his family and of course, his health.
"Since there's little physical activity now, I workout for an hour on the exercycle, meditate 30 minutes, read a lot, catch up on TV news and occasionally play pool or carom with my teenage son Jeet," Athawale smiled, as wife Seema adores the bonding between her spouse and son.
He even surprised his family when he picked up a guitar and strummed a bit to relieve the lockdown stress, amid attending scores of SOS calls from desperate souls suffering in different parts of India or abroad.
A fortnight ago, Athawale, 60, attended an event in Mumbai and gave the clarion marching call -- Go, corona Goa -- which instantly became popular and was emulated by millions elsewhere.
To wedge the point deeper, he even penned over two dozen Marathi couplets and poems, which he willingly crooned on Marathi TV channels -- intended to chase out the obviously deaf coronavirus!
"This lockdown will prove to be corona's "outdown soon" Athawale told IANS, spontaneously coining another gem from his pocket of wacky goodies.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the lockdown, he said the aid packages announced will go a long way in easing peoples' miseries during the mandatory stay-at-home period.
"Even Chief Minister Uddhavji Thackeray is doing a wonderful joba The 24x7 permission to all essential shops/outlets is a brilliant idea to combat public crowding. Even the suggestion of keeping off the air-conditioners at home or offices will help kill corona in the summer heat," hopes Athawale, heaping unexpected praises on his political rival.
Hopping down to his Bandra home-office for several hours twice a day, Athawale said he is barged with messages/calls for help from people stranded in different parts of Maharashtra, India and even abroad.
"Many others say they don't have ration cards and hence cannot take advantage of the government's latest schemes. I am going to request Modiji to consider their plight on humanitarian grounds in view of the extraordinary situation confronting the nation," Athawale assured.
An optimist at heart, Athawale said though the economy may be dented for a few years by the corona lockdown, the country will "emerge stronger" and bounce back as a world power very soon with the support of people under Modiji's dynamic leadership.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: email@example.com)