Face to face with a social virus

I was holed up in the apartment that I moved to earlier this month, for 9 days now. Only yesterday did the German government finally announce a complete lockdown, and the Chancellor went into quarantine. I needed to get some fresh air, refill stocks, and also try to get essential bank work done: my address had to be changed. I prayed that they had some stocks, as I went out.

I do not have a mask currently, they flew out off the shelves pretty fast, and my Amazon order is currently showing April 4th as the possible delivery date. I put on a handmade tissue-mask, and put an additional layer with my dupatta.

I went to a three-storied shopping complex to limit the travel, and walked so that I didn’t have to catch a bus. People are on the move, people were briskly in and out of the complex to avoid interaction with anyone else. As I was about to enter, a shout drew me to another  entrance on the other side. I noticed an elderly German woman very close to a guy, pointing to him and shouting frantically, “Corona, Corona… Chinesisch!” (“Corona, Corona… Chinese!”) I saw two young German guys walking up to him, then holding him by his collars, and starting to beat him up against the wall!

Although a couple at a distance was pointing to the commotion and whispering, they did nothing. I gathered some courage and walked up to them, maintaining the one and a half metre distance that is now mandatory, and said, “What the heck is going on here?” They replied that they thought the guy is Chinese, and hence they wouldn’t want to let him enter the mall. In the meantime, the guy kept on pleading in broken German, that he is from Vietnam, and has not returned to Asia in the last two years. They were not interested in listening and continued beating.

I turned back and started calling the emergency phone number of the local police. Suddenly I felt a sharp attack on my neck! It was the old woman, she had used her hiking stick that is commonly used in south Germany because of the terrain. I started bleeding from my neck, but I gathered myself, turned back, and started calling the number again. It was engaged, so I managed to walk up to the bus station where the police were on patrol to monitor the lockdown, and explained to them the situation. The police were prompt and helpful, and immediately came to my help.

The guy was in some kind of trauma, he somehow folded his hands, and fled. The old woman was quite adamant even as the police approached, but I felt assured that they would take care. I had to attend to my bleeding, so I rushed to the washroom inside. More than the physical hurt, this incident left me shaken and enraged.

The COVID-19 vaccine will definitely come from the hard work of the scientists. But is there any cure to the cold, thorny, contagious disease of racism?


This is a real incident faced by a friend I know, but this first person account has been written by me after consultation with them. They prefer to remain anonymous.

It later got covered in LiveWire as Battling the Contagious Disease of Racism: A Personal Account From Germany.

4 thoughts on “Face to face with a social virus

  1. This was one terrible, shocking incident. You are lucky that you weren’t more seriously injured. Related to COVID-19, a recent incident happened in Delhi where a Manipuri girl was tauntingly called “Corona” and spat on. The man was arrested, however. Just because she had narrow eyes, she was taunted. Yes, you are right. Scientists, doctors and nurses are fighting COVID-19, but we as a society, all of us, must fight racism, and it’s as severe a disease as any.

    Liked by 1 person

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