Here today gone tomorrow is more or less the motto of the times. The Man from Madras Musings reflects on the number of people he knows who have fallen victim to the current pandemic and pays a silent tribute to them all. Yes, these are depressing times. You could almost be Samuel Pepys as he walked about London during the plague. The general gloom and doom has however caught on to such an extent that anybody who falls ill is immediately spoken of as a victim of Covid. Worse, there is a tendency to write off any and everyone who is afflicted by the virus, while statistics reveal just the opposite. Our city’s recovery rate has been really good, and as for the few who die, the reasons are generally due to pre-existing medical conditions or, in some unfortunate cases, heavy exposure to the virus.

Which is why this ghoulish delight that our city has been taking in composing obituaries for those not yet gone or well on their way to recovery has been puzzling MMM. The first was a master scientist, happily still with us. Those who hang on to MMM’s every word will recall that obituaries were penned on that great man and not all were withdrawn thereafter. Then came the news that a silk baron was terminally ill and then dead. Immediately the city’s professional mourners flooded social media with the usual writing – Oh-he-was-such-a-humble man,-he-recognised-my-greatness-the-moment-we-met kind of thing. Then the baron’s son-in-law denied the whole news report of the death. Silk baron was alive, though not well. So, Roving Mourners, Kindly Verify about sums it up.

All of this was nothing compared to the brouhaha over a shop that sold fried stuff via a window near the temple in Peacock Town. Known to all as the window shop, it was suddenly broadcast in most media that the man who owned the window shop was dead. Lengthy obituaries were written for the shop and its owner. And then two days later came a denial. The owner gave an interview that he was very much alive and it was his brother, who worked at a Government office by day and assisted at the shop each evening, he being the person who handed out the parcels to the clientele, that had passed away because of Covid. The obit writers were not exactly happy with this turn of events. Some felt let down and opined that the least the owner could have done, given the volumes of savouries they had bought off him, was to have kept quiet, and not brought the error to public notice. Others chose to simply deny the existence of the brother and insisted that it was the owner who had passed on, leaving rather like the Man in the Iron Mask, a changeling in his place.

A more thorough investigation revealed some new facts. Apparently, there were always two men at the shop. The one at the stove was the owner of the shop and he was never to be seen at the window. On the other hand, most people knew only the man at the window of the shop, he never having worked over the stove. Therefore most assumed that the man at the window owned the window shop, when actually this was not so, the stove man and not the window man being the owner. The window man, as we now know, worked with the accounts department of the Government. Therefore when media men (and women) saw the photo of the window man in the obit columns they assumed that the owner of the window shop was dead when all along it was only the man at the window, the real owner being as we now know being the man at the stove. Hence the flood of obituaries. But now there is greater clarity – the man at the window of the window shop is dead and he never owned the window shop. The man who owned the window shop, but who was never at the window, is alive and he plans to reopen soon. The million dollar question however is, who will now stand at the window of the window shop? 

There are some however who chose to disbelieve it all. The man who stood at the window was the real owner they assert. But because he was working for the Government, he hid his ownership and let the brother hog the limelight, though not the window, they say. But as these are the ones who wrote the biggest obits, MMM chooses to disbelieve them.