Janos Nemes, dressed as Santa Claus, talks as he interacts with children by video in a photo studio, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Budapest, Hungary, December 1. (Image: Reuters)
We all had a Covid birthday this year and now we had ourselves a Covid Christmas, though we can be forgiven for thinking this a non-Christmas, and that the real Christmas has merely been postponed. Someone has been stealing all our celebrations from us since March!
Thievery is a thing, kind of in fashion. Fashion itself has been robbed of super-model Stella Tennant and writer Sarah Joseph’s money was stolen from her bank.
Days have been purloined from our weeks, and weeks from our months. At the end of the year, we stand cheated out of all our clocks and calendars. 2020 was kidnapped, held hostage, and no ransom sought. Which is the worst kind of daylight robbery!
This large-scale burglary of our days and months has been executed with such smoothness that we have had no time to file complaints or even run after the thief – because invisible culprits are the worst. Humorist Erma Bombeck in one of her books suspects there is an invisible child in the house whom all other children pin the blame on whenever a crime has been committed.
VJ James’ delightful new novel Chorashastra: the Subtle Science of Thievery, translated from Malayalam this year, gives us the behind-the-scenes story. There is information about the training, academic institutions, and travails of the average robber. Pilferage may be paltry, but it may also be what superhero sleuths like Sherlock Holmes have to study and solve through many, many pages and movies.
The history of thieveries started subtly and softly, with the mention of hearts. He stole her heart, she stole my heart... Please note the smooth introduction of robbery as a concept into our daily life. Ha ha, we said, hoping someone would come and just steal our heart already.
Many people spoke of this and sang of this, as an epic event, as fate, as fait accompli, including Sheila Chandra whose Wings of the Dawn addresses the thief directly in the lines: ‘Like a thief in the night, you came to me, and stole my heart.’ Edgier singers like Marian Hill though brings out the psychological truths behind great larceny, saying in Got It:
You want to steal / cause it can't be bought.
And though it is inauspicious to mention someone’s death on their birthday, we must remember that Christ spent his last moments crucified between two thieves. Also, didn't a thief surprise Sister Abhaya's killers with what he saw when he was where he wasn't supposed to be?
The New York Times reported on manuscripts being whisked away by scamsters in a very involved type of cyber crime. Authors would be asked for their final draft by their publishers or editors who suddenly have suspicious new email addresses and if the concerned authors send the draft, someone somewhere has a lot to read. How lazy robbers have become post-Covid, isn’t it? That they resort to armchair swiping of even stories.
So, however much you wish everyone you know on WhatsApp a merry Christmas and a happy new year, there really has been no holiday season this year.
Covid the biggest robber of them all!