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A parable for the pandemic

‘The Curse of C-19’, a tale themed around the novel coronavirus urges readers to come out of the pandemic as better individuals, NT KURIOCITY finds
ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY
For some of us, the novel coronavirus pandemic was a wake-up call to stir us out of our state of mediocrity and strive to be better. But for the rest of us who still need a nudge, a book titled ‘The Curse of C-19’ attempts to do just that.
Produced by a team of youngsters at Panaji-based creative design and communications agency, Dreamsketchers, ‘The Curse of C-19’ is a retelling of the creation of the world and subsequent destruction by man. Juxtaposed with sombre visuals, the 15-minute read fuses elements of mythology, scripture, and reality in a allegory on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A thought crossed my mind, what if we are doomed this time? Not that these kinds of plagues have never happened in the past – but due to advancement in technology, connectivity, and access to information of various kinds, the virus spread much faster and so did its ability to create mental unrest,” says co-owner of Dreamsketchers, Prayag Quenim who wrote and illustrated the book. “The current pandemic has changed the course of nature for the entire world. This book is a reminder to people that we are all a little part of the entire universe,” he adds.
India is no stranger to mythology or traditional folk tales; stories that can be interpreted in myriad ways, shares Quenim. And it was his fascination for the genre along with the Dreamsketchers’ mission to challenge the traditional norms of content creation and use innovative approaches to deliver all messages that led him to employ this format to instil a sense of responsibility in the minds of readers.
But this story, although it might seem like it, is not to teach a lesson, says Quenim. “Rather, it is a chance to reflect, to linger on a few things we might have not noticed before. People are already talking about it. Attention to our environment is talked about often. But it cannot be a short-term motivation; the thought has to stay on.”
And when asked what he thinks is the way forward, pat comes the reply: “‘What can be done’ is not a question that we can afford to ask anymore. ‘What can be done right now’ is the question we should be asking. Our focus should be on ensuring that the next generations do not miss out on the benefits that we have now. Can you imagine Goan life, if fields, ‘kulagars’ (traditional Goan lands), ‘kaju’ (cashew), and more, disappeared?” he asks. And Dreamsketchers is doing their bit to help the planet. “We may not be a company that can undertake big CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects, but we have started something called ‘The Clean Beach Project’ to help our precious beaches survive for a little longer,” he says.
The cautionary tale of fear, mystery, and drama, is targeted at readers of all ages and can be accessed for free digitally. The aim, shares Quenim, was to make it accessible to all. “We tried putting it on certain digital platforms which required us to attach a monetary value to it and we did not want that. Hence, we created a website in order to put up a link which could be forwarded to whoever is interested.”
Narrated in second-person, the 32-page tale “is a dive into people’s conscience, an answer to many deep and hidden questions”. It focuses on the need to address environmental degradation while drawing attention to the “fickle self-control of human greed, fear, and the emotion that can wipe off every inch of human interaction”.
“It is also a mode of entertainment while being informative, conscious, and emotional. I hope when the crisis is over, we come out as better individuals, leaving our greed and temptations away,” he says.
(The book can be accessed at
www.curseofc19.in)

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