Not trying to scare you away with the title or the numbers or the guidelines. I know that is what your mind might have raced to think. Here’s take a moment to just read and not curate or think about what is coming in the verses below. Let that be a journey unknown.
The sunshine was a little mellow that Monday morning, and there was a pale yellow lizard sun-bathing on the window sill.
A zillion thought running through the otherwise disciplined Monday mind because there is no office to run to. The luxury of being in bed a few extra minutes, the luxury of letting the uncanny thoughts play over and over in the head, the luxury of spreading the butter on bread evenly taking my own time, was the state of mind on Day 1 of Quarantine.
Fast forward to Day 14- A terrible longing for routine and I can do anything to get back to it. And trust me, like most of you, I also often associated people who like routine with a boring personality image in my head. But, Mundane is Luxury indeed. Waking upto a Monday morning where there is an office to go to, where there is dressing up in those ironed business formals, where there are colleagues sitting and talking right across my desk, where there is lunch to be had from the lunch boxes instead of the proper plates and cutlery, where there are cars and crowd on the streets, where standing in queues close to other humans is normal, where the smell of road side fried food tickles the nose, where the metros and the buses reek of sweaty deodorants, where grabbing a plate of momos off the road and stuffing my mouth with it, is not prohibited, is actually an unaffordable luxury.
You realise Day 1 of Quarantine felt way too different from Day 14. It dawned upon me that the virus, unlike many other norms of society, does not discriminate. From the PMs of many countries to the celebs to the menial workers, it indeed infects everyone. You begin to value your life and the life of your loved ones, you begin to feel responsible and empowered. You realise how your company or any other organisations you are associated with, cares for you to actually let you work from home and pay you your full salary. Looking at the delivery partners of various companies trying to risk their lives to make ends meet, you realise how better off you are. The feeling of gratitude suddenly sits solemnly over all other feelings, you ever had. Not the number of kilometers, but it is the well-being of your loved ones that makes you feel humble and blessed. It is the roof over your head, and the coins in your pocket that humbles you instead of giving you a false sense of entitlement.
There is no doubt that Quarantine is not normal, not ideal, not desired. It is scary, makes you feel anxious and sometimes even low. But it is also important that you realise how important you are in the chain of events. How you can break the chain by staying put where you are, how you can contribute as little as 20 rupees for a food packet to serve the daily wagers or even the stray animals, how you can empower your maids by making them aware, how you can be a responsible netizen by sharing numbers and information from only verified sources, how you can empower small businesses, individuals who are trying to help the needy by publicising them. Trust me, Coronavirus is already famous, it does not need any more publicity. Instead, publicise the solutions to tame the virus.
Though literally Quarantine means isolation and social distancing while keeping your surroundings sanitised, it personally helped me in sanitising my thoughts. By the first week of it, I was sad, hopeless and even irritated with the state of things. It suddenly made me feel 2020 was a bad year and a year that possibly is only dark without any silver lining. Too bad, I jumped to that conclusion when over 9 months of the year was left. And no, am not cushioning your feelings into thinking it is all bright and happy. It is probably not. You probably had trips planned with non-refundable tickets, or your own wedding planned, or a placement season coming up, or worse you probably have your mental health dampened by the situation. But like we learnt in our grammar lessons in school, looking at life in terms of degrees of comparison, I realized bad is still better than worse and worse is still better than the worst.
Once you hit the rock bottom, there is only one way from there and that is up. So probably it won’t get better, straight away. But, we have passed the worst Q1 and from there Q2 and Q3 of 2020 will be worse or bad, but better than NOW. True, numbers related to Coronavirus is increasing, and it will because, guess what? Out of the say, 1,00,000 people under observation, it takes as much as 14 days for the virus to show up and once it shows, even if 20 percent of the cases are positive, that is still 20,000 more people added to the list. It will only go down after months when the backlogs of people infected before lockdown is fully tested and cleared. Clearly, after lockdown, we did somewhat break the chain and results will show, but after a painful patient wait. So, do not ever underestimate your responsibility to quarantine.
Once I understood the math, I found Love and Joy in the dusty nooks and corners of Life, that were non-existent to me. I found Love in silence, Love in those dusty shelves of my house that now I clean with my own hands, Love in the company with the company of people who keeps my 9-10 hours happy and productive virtually, Love in the discipline of everyone working from home and meeting targets, there is something satisfying in sanitising everything and in those pungent smelling floor cleaners, there is joy in cleaning out stacks of paper piled up from years, there is love in seeing my parents across the screen safe, there is love in catching up on all those unfinished conversations with old friends, in responding to all those text messages I left on seen but not replied, there is love in the smell of the pages of old books, there is love in prepping a meal from leftovers, in curating my own recipes, there is love in the bushy eyebrows and the thin line of moustache that never saw the light of the day until now, thanks to the decorum of being groomed in corporate life, there is love in letting my skin and hair be without any touches to make them look ready, and just like that Quarantining feels like a beautiful journey and as natural as was the routine.
Pride, Happiness, Fear, Anxious, Arrogance, Love, Respect- Out of all these feelings, Gratitude and Responsibility are two beautiful states of mind. It’s what a cup of hot chocolate is to winter. It’s warm, empowering and liberating. And I promise, it is not a difficult state to attain too. On that note, Stay Safe, Stay Sane and Quarantine!