For all of you who still haven’t got it all together…
Even though we are officially nearing the end of second phase of lockdown announced by PM Narendra Modi, we are well aware that there are several new and surprising phases ahead of us.
Let’s be positive
By now most people have settled into their new routines. They’ve figured out how to best work from home, how to take video calls on dodgy Wi-Fi connections, how to cook and clean and manage their kids’ schoolwork, how to take Pilates classes on Zoom and meditate and wear a mask and get groceries. Some have gone a step ahead and even acquired new skills. My Instagram feed is full of friends who’ve gone overnight from Swiggy enthusiasts to professional grade cooks. Japanese breads, Italian desserts, Malaysian noodles—national boundaries are sneered upon by the inspired lockdown citizen. Books are being read and written at breakneck speed, paintings of hitherto unseen birds dot social media, designer masks are being stitched, and virtual museum tours and concerts are now our new favourite leisure time activities. All in all, the urban Indian seems to be winning this lockdown.
Some of us, however, are not doing so well. And if you’re one of those who still hasn’t got it together, I’m here to give you a virtual hug and say, I see you.
Most of us started the lockdown with a feeling of disorientation. Suddenly things had changed, and we weren’t quite sure where we stood in the new scheme of things. Four weeks later, that feeling of disorientation is not exactly the same, but it hasn’t quite gone away either. Sometimes I start the day full of resolve and a perfectly carved out schedule. Today I will do 45 minutes of yoga, followed by a healthy breakfast for the family, four non-stop hours of office work during which time I will also take my child through their schoolwork. Sweeping and mopping will be conquered in the afternoon, post which I’ll take in an online course and by 7pm we’ll all be done with all our tasks and have settled into a picture of domestic bliss with a book in one hand and a non-alcoholic beverage in the other.
Obviously, the above scenario is about as likely to come true as an episode of Game of Thrones. Both are fantasies and while one has exotic fire-breathing dragons and white walkers, the other is a less exciting display of anxiety, fretting, and general mental breakdown. Nothing ever goes according to plan, and soon I find myself having abandoned everything, fervently checking my phone for the latest India figures, reading about some new mutation of the virus, and wondering if anything is in my control anymore.
It’s that loss of control that’s so discomfiting. Yes, it’s important to have a schedule. Yes, we need to be strong and cheerful for our kids. Yes, oh yes, we are so fortunate to have comfortable homes and food to eat and the internet and the world’s entertainment at our fingertips. But that doesn’t change the fact that the rug has been pulled out from under our collective feet and our landing has been anything but smooth. And with no real light at the end of the tunnel, which straws exactly are we supposed to grasp at to stay positive?
Although this ought to be a universal experience, I haven’t had much luck when it comes to talking to others about it. My most well-meaning friends are quick to offer solutions – download a meditation app, start your day with a workout, have you tried baking banana bread?, this is a great time to reset your cupboards, organise the pictures on your phone, watch a rom-com, enjoy this quality time with your family, start a gratitude journal (I’ll kill the next person who says that) – so many solutions to a problem that really has none. It’s not ways to fill up time that I’m looking for (I mean, does any working parent even have spare time?). It’s just someone to look me in the eye and acknowledge that what I’m feeling is valid. That the world as we knew it, the lives we’d built for ourselves, the joys we took for granted, the walks, the catchups, the bucket lists we were mentally building are changed forever. And that it’s OK to feel more than a little sad about it.
When all this over, we will rebuild and re-consume, re-dine, re-travel and do all of those petty little superficial things we spoilt city folks love to do. But in the meanwhile, for all those of you who just need to lie down on the floor and have someone hold your hand, here’s mine.
Nidhi Raichand is a communications specialist who works in the IT space. A working mother of two, she believes women have two hands too few. In any given hour, she goes through anxiety, joy, despair, hope and a trip to the refrigerator