Published: Everybody Knows


I haven’t written a whole lot of corona-fiction but on a whim in April, i wrote this vignette called ‘Everybody Knows’. It’s live at Infection House. Below is an excerpt:

Everyone was talking about how they were supporting the local economy. “Yesterday, we ordered via Uber Eats from our local biryani place and had a neighbourhood biriyani party on Zoom. Myself — I ordered for all families. You could say I ‘ate’ the cost, heh heh,” said the foreign-return Naren, who had had to cancel his Europe vacation due to the travel ban. “As responsible citizens, I think it’s our duty to participate in the economy and spend, spend, spend. It might be something small like supporting your local ice-cream shop or your favorite Italian restaurant, but small actions can have big effects.”

The story was born out of several news reports I was reading from India and across the world as well as my own privilege navigating the pandemic. The story we’re telling ourselves is that we’re doing the best we can – which is, of course, subjectively true – but it exposes the fragility of the systems upon which we are able to rely. Those of us with privilege can turn to other systems to provide the services we need/want, but those systems are so exclusionary that it brings questions of scale into focus. Earlier when we talked about disrupting systems for social benefit, Arundhati Roy asked “for the greater common good of whom?”; now when we talk about “scale”, I wonder if the question is again “for whom do we scale”?

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