Anonymous 3m 847 #covid19
The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
I have never contemplated on how true the statement “It doesn’t bother you till it happens to you” was till I landed in the middle of a global pandemic with the rest of the world. I still remember disinterestedly glancing at the news playing on the television as it said something about some virus outbreak in China in the beginning of 2020. A handful of people were killed and my reaction was “Meh, it’s in China. Might be our neighboring country but still separated by the border.” When the first case the first case of the virus was reported on January 30, 2020 in the state of Kerala, I learned the name of the virus, still not bothered as much since I was happily going about my life in Kolkata. And then one day, two months back, cases of coronavirus started popping up in Kolkata. And all hell broke loose.
Local shops, shopping malls and restaurants closed their doors. The police went from area to area yelling on loudspeakers, telling people to stay indoors and only come out of houses in case of emergencies or “essential activities.” It took a while to get the hang of what “essential activities” actually meant. When I tried to reach my favorite park a few blocks away to jog in the morning, a policeman stopped me asked me what I was doing out of the house. On being informed that I was following my daily exercise routine, he shook his head and told me it was not acceptable to come out of the house for losing a few pounds anymore. It was perplexing. I was forced to return home only to find my mother complain about the fact that our housemaid had notified her that she will not be coming to work for the foreseeable future.
As we were reeling with the changes in the new normal, the Prime Minister announced a “nationwide lockdown.” Rarely does the leader of our country address the nation to deliver good news, except if India has launched a satellite into space. So seeing Narendra Modi’s grim speech on the idiot box as well as every live streaming platform on the internet confirmed the fact that a dark hour was upon us. However, we were yet to learn exactly how dark.
The very next day I got a mail from my HR saying mandatory work from home had been declared by my office for all employees for a month. The news failed to delight me, mostly because of the atmosphere of uncertainty and terror across the country and the fact that forced work from home did not have the same thrill as making up a false excuse to stay in bed and work in your pajamas. My brother, who works in Bangalore, was initially delighted at the prospect of not having to go to office, mostly because it meant he could come back home for an extended period of time. His happiness was short-lived; however, as all domestic flight bookings were cancelled. I felt helpless at not being able to do anything to get him home.
Next came the biggest hurdle – keeping my parents safe. Both of them are above sixty. So I was not going to take any risks. I sat them down and told them point blank that under no circumstances were they allowed to leave the four walls. They grumbled a bit but eventually agreed. So began the tedious process of self-isolation. While I felt bad for our local fruits and vegetables seller who routinely yelled out in the morning as he passed our house with his cart, I chose to order via delivery apps, trusting that they would be safer as they wore masks and gloves and even agreed to leave the groceries outside the door. I bought huge containers of sanitizers, more than anything because I saw rest of the world buy it and I did not want stocks to run out.
Takeouts were temporarily banned from my house. Since I had some free time in my hands, not going to office and all, I started cooking, helping my mother out in the kitchen and browsing fancy new recipes on the internet in my free time. Things seemed peaceful and even enjoyable for a while. I was spending more time with my parents and on the phone, catching up with long lost friends. The lockdown had somehow reunited us all in a way by slowing down the pace of life. I started taking trips to the terrace, determined to keep up my daily morning walk routine and witnessing sunrises, something I hadn’t done for a very long time.
But all of that changed after a month when lockdown 2.0 was announced and two weeks later, 3.0. I feel myself long for the days I would make spontaneous plans with friends and leave for some nearby beach overnight. I miss exploring new eateries and pubs around the city. I miss strolling in a park or watching the latest movie in the mall. I am so ready to for this parallel universe to end.