I wake up early. The acid in my belly feels like it will burn a hole through my innards. I douse it with some ice cold water from the refrigerator, and find that sleep is no longer a possibility. I walk up to the terrace. Maybe the soft sunlight and the songs of my feathered friends will give me the respite I am seeking.
Two days ago, we managed to tie some sheets of green cloth over the lawn to protect the plants in my garden from charring in the summer heat. It was a whole afternoon’s hard work. Today I see their mangled remains flying as the morning breeze blows. A group of langurs seeking shelter from the blazing heat under the green shade, decided to play hide and seek there. For a change I do not feel angry about their antics. Perhaps the simian juniors needed their frolic and fun too.
The tatters of green cloth remind me of some others. People who have lost the roofs over their heads. Overnight. Their hard work and dignity swapped with shame and helplessness. Reduced to refugees in their own country. Having to queue up for their next meal. Not knowing whether it will come. I belong to a privileged class— who has the luxury of a cool and cosy home, electronic networking, and much more. I don’t have a right to complain.
And yet, something doesn’t feel right. A pile of books lies by my bedside. I picked them to finally read since I now had all the time in the world. Rushdie, Tharoor, Wodehouse, Rumi— they all lie untouched. I reach out to Asterix. At the beginning of the lockdown, I had subscribed to every possible OTT platform. There was a world of cinema that needed to explored. I realise that I haven’t seen a single one. Social media seems like the inevitable solace, but before you realize the negativity is eating into you. People have their ways of coping. They make videos, dance, cook, write poetry or workout. Yet amidst all this they don’t forget to judge, put down others, and rejoice in another’s misery. It is as if masks over faces cannot hide the poison in our beings from overflowing.
Guilt is gnawing into you. The pressure to perform rises. There is so much you could have done. Time is whizzing past. Yet productivity is zilch. Is too much time on your hands a malaise? Maybe it is time to really pause. Maybe it is time simply to let your body and mind recoup. Maybe it is time to simply keep moving slowly and get out of this phase alive.
The world is learning to cope. And hope. We all have our battles. Each one is a soldier. In our own way.