Just like the rest of the six billion people whom I co-exist with on this planet, my initial reaction was one of disbelief. I thought it was just another panic-driven story by the naysayers and the doomsday theorists. What can one tiny virus do to me anyway?
We had booked our tickets to the US for the end of April and we’re looking forward to a month-long vacation with our extended family. As news of the new virus killing thousands started trickling in, I very and I mean very reluctantly canceled my trip.
And just like that, we moved into Day 1 of the lockdown. I had recently stocked up on essentials and was sure we would breeze through this. I was so excited about spending time with my family, but in retrospect, I laugh at my naivety. The first ten days I was the quintessential homemaker; cooking everyone’s favorite dishes, cleaning every nook and corner the domestic help had missed and playing board games with the kids and the husband. Soon the enthusiasm started flagging and I was reverting back to myself. Cooking was just not my forte; at the best of times it was palatable and most times everyone just said a prayer before imbibing what I placed before them.
As reality sank in and I realized that I will be stuck indefinitely inside with two teenage mutant monsters and my man who was wearing thin my floor with his constant restless movements around the house; I started to panic. I was ready to help the scientists develop the vaccine or start climbing walls like Spidey.
I am a communications trainer and I work with various companies besides teaching others the nuances of the English language. I invariably bleat my way through the phonic sessions. I needed a break anyways from all the talking I did as I was surprisingly tired of listening to the sound of my own voice, which is a rarity in itself.
By the end of one month, I decided that I should reconnect with my inner self; my way of saying I needed to escape this madhouse. Inner self reconnection didn’t happen, but I was able to splash around a few colors on paper until it took on the semblance of a not too badly put-together painting. And just like that, I discovered I could paint.
My next project was to tackle the geometric shape I had started to resemble. I was now cuddly with well-endowed curves very visible to the not so discerning eye too. Looking at all those wannabe actors posting exercise videos on social media, I decided to jump on the bandwagon too. Of course, I couldn’t post any videos. I’m not a pretty sight in a leotard. I convinced myself that Yoga was the way forward. I could lock myself away just when the monsters emerged from their rooms. To my extreme delight yoga has helped bring semblance to a chaotic and over energised mind to some extent. I can proudly say that I am now able to concentrate on the task at hand for a grand time of 30 minutes without my mind taking off in a parallel direction. I’m still hoping it will calm the curves down too. Maybe, I should stop eating non-stop, but that’s a thought for another day.
We had now entered phase 2 of the lockdown, and as I had dropped all pretense of cooking, I decided to upskill. As procrastination is what I ace at, I pondered over this for 2 whole days, until my husband sent me a link that he thought would finally excite me. Surprisingly, it did. I registered for a course in Rhetoric and the Art of Public Speaking, and I’m confident of winning every argument at home in the future. If my logic doesn’t work, I can always revert to myself and shout the house down. It’s a sure winner every single time.
While I have been sitting home, managing pretty well without help, I understand there are people out there struggling to make sense of this whole pandemic and trying hard to weave their lives back together. Humanity is being morally tested, and I am no judge or juror to pass the verdict. It has brought the world to its knees and cut a swathe through people’s lives irrespective of caste, creed, or nationality. I strongly believe kindness is contagious; and in man’s greatest hour of need, I gave of my time, my resources, my love and embraced the power of giving. I celebrated life with the differently-abled, with the aged, with the orphans, and the lesser privileged by helping garner support for their daily rations. Did this entire exercise make me feel entitled? Yes, it did! I have never before been more aware of the comforts I take for granted. This experience has humbled me and more than anything I fervently pray for those affected by this juggernaut.
We will have to face more challenging times going forward, but I must say I have enjoyed every minute of being confined to the four walls of my home. I may stomp and scream and generally behave like your neighborhood fishwife, but I wouldn’t trade these months for anything in the world (I swear you to secrecy- you will never ever tell my family this). I like to think these experiences have helped me gain insight (PS- remind me again in a few months when the novelty wears thin) and shaped a better me. Only time will tell (give it a few years, please).
To all those unable to beat the blues, I ask you to embrace the change. No dark cloud appears without a silver lining. Introspect and reboot your soul. This too shall pass!!
Authored by Sushma Bhat