My neighbour, Ramkumar, suddenly appeared on the next balcony of my building and gave me a big smile, “Bob, I’ve discovered a vaccine the world needs at this moment!”
“Whoa! Whoa!” I shouted, “You’ve just recovered from the coronavirus, not only you, but your whole family. Is that what you were doing while being quarantined? Becoming a scientist?”
“Not exactly,” he said with good humour, tolerating my banter, which normally he treated with a scowl. “It was after we went through the trauma, and came out more or less unscathed, that I discovered the vaccine!”
“Did your wife and children also help you in your research?” I asked pleasantly.
“As a matter of fact, yes!” replied my neighbour.
I watched as his wife came onto the balcony and asked where my missus was. “I need to share a non-veg recipe with her!”
“But you are vegetarians!” I said.
“So? Nothing wrong in sharing with others who eat non-veg, even if we don’t!” she said, and grinned.
Meanwhile my neighbour brought out a chair and stretched himself out on it. “Now do you know what vaccine I’ve discovered?” he asked. “It’s a vaccine called Gratitude!”
“I’ve heard of Sputnik and Oxford and Pfizer but this is a strange name,” I said. “You should call it Grat-20 or something like that for the world to take you seriously!”
“The world should take me seriously,” said Ramkumar, “because if it doesn’t we are all going to perish with this new virus going around. A virus called ‘Hate’!”
“And how exactly will your vaccine of Gratitude counteract the effects of Hate?” I asked, as I saw his wife exchanging the recipe with my wife.
“Gratitude,” said my neighbour, “is what all those who are alive today after the virus scare should be having! Gratitude for life! And instead of going back to indifference and anger and pride, let us use this same Gratitude to vaccinate ourselves against all these terrible viruses!”
“We are so happy to be alive,” smiled his wife, “that I can’t believe I had never spoken to your wife before, just because she ate or worshipped differently. Imagine, I could have been carried to the funeral pyre without knowing what a lovely person she was.”
“Let us inject ourselves with Gratitude!” shouted Ramkumar’s family together.
We chatted on, and I watched a man who couldn’t stand me or my jokes now listening to them, guffawing and chuckling. And as I heard him speak, I realized he had indeed discovered a much-needed cure, the Vaccine of Gratitude!
“Okay, call it Grat-20!” said Ramkumar benevolently with a wink. “Now let us hope that all who are alive and well in our country, especially all our youth, will get vaccinated with Grat-20, during the New Year 2021!”