For a few hours in Kolkata today, the bleak tidings of COVID-19 and the possibility of the lockdown being extended were pushed to the back benches by news that the West Bengal government was going to allow home delivery of alcohol across the state.
Starting date today or tomorrow.
As hurrahs and cheers went up in the air, a frantic hunt began in media circles for confirmation of this news nugget.
And that led to a comedy of hesitant to denials of any truth in the matter from the government.
But sources insist there is never any smoke without fire.
Back to the beginnings of this tragi-comedy.
At 5:00 pm, a local Bengali news channel aired a report saying the government would allow the home delivery of alcohol. Several details were shared, about how liquor shops would accept orders on phone between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm and from 2 pm to 5 pm, delivery boys would be at your doorstep with a bottle or two of your favourite tipple.
No alcohol would be sold to individuals who showed up at liquor stores.
Around the same time, an officious looking circular went into circulation on social media. No signature or clue who was supposed to have signed it but the order was addressed to officers in charge of police stations announcing the decision about the home delivery of alcohol starting April 8.
The plan was, a maximum of three delivery boys could be roped in by the liquor stores to deliver alcohol within a five-kilometre radius. The liquor stores would have to acquire permits for the delivery boys from local police stations.
But top officials of the police and the bureaucracy kept denying the move. No such order has been passed, top officials said.
Some police even described the WhatsApp circular as a fake. However, as the issue snowballed, there was no reply to questions on whether the fake circular would be investigated by the police.
Eventually, reports in local media said one of three things -- the order was withdrawn or the order was never passed or the whole thing was one big fake.
West Bengal is not a dry state, alcohol is not prohibited. Just that the lockdown had got in the way of sales - so, all that the WhatsApp circular did was enable sales.
Of course, there was never provision of the home delivery of alcohol. That was definitely new.
For those suffering in the arid lockdown, the light at the end of the tunnel has been snuffed out.