On December 31, 2019, I blew out my candle as the clock struck 12, the choir sang a sweet hymn in the background, and I closed my eyes, trying to imagine wonderful experiences the new year held in store for me. I am now certain that the new year did indeed have a lot of experiences in store for me. Would I categorize them as wonderful? That is up for debate.
The ongoing global pandemic, known as the coronavirus disease, has changed the dynamic of the way we live. From employment, to the economy, international trade, healthcare, essential services, communication etc, we are slowly adapting to change.
When I returned to Hyderabad, I was hoping to make the most of my two week break by spending time with family and friends. Little did I know that those two weeks would morph into several months.
When the lockdown was enforced, I was neither sad, nor disappointed, knowing that this was the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. On the contrary, I observed that many of my peers and members of the community took to social media to express their disdain towards the restrictions that were being imposed.
Initially, the increasing number of cases stirred panic in my mind. But instead of fixating on every negative headline I read, I chose to occupy myself by being productive. Although the restrictions were inconvenient, they were necessary. Fortunately I live close to the local supermarket. Grocery shopping became our family’s weekly outing. Because of the lockdown, my parents had begun to work from home. We split the household chores and had some harrowing experiences in the kitchen.
Being confined to the same space for weeks is tough, but we were able to make it through. We caught up on the family time we had missed out on while I was away. Sure, there were occasional tantrums and friction between us, but we recovered and moved on.
In order to spice up our mundane days, we go on walks and play badminton. Every night has become a movie night, and my father is now a self proclaimed film critic. The extra time on my hands has also allowed me to spend more time with my dog, Nash. Every time I take him out for a walk, I’m introduced to all of his friends, including the neighbourhood cow. Their unusual friendship puzzles me, but I don’t question it.
Knowing that there are many who are not as fortunate as I am, who don’t have the luxury of living in a house, surrounded by loved ones, is a sobering reminder for me to be grateful for the life I have.
On several occasions during the lockdown, I felt emotionally weighed down. While I was trying to be productive by taking up online courses and learning a new language, I was not satisfied. Occasionally I wouldn’t have the energy to be productive, which would result in long periods of procrastination. As I binge watched movies and shows, each day bled into the next, and for a while I couldn’t tell apart one day from the other.
Journaling and art have helped me through this. Writing down the emotions I’m feeling, and sketching out my thoughts, have become my coping mechanisms. At times, I miss the companionship of my friends, but I understand that we’re safer when we’re apart, and I can always pick up my phone and talk to them. The return of the formula 1 season has also boosted my spirits, giving me an incentive to get through the week and enjoy race weekends.
Knowing that the problems I face pale in comparison to those of millions of people around the world, I am grateful for the luxuries I enjoy and the love of family that I had often taken for granted.