Image courtesy of krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
None of us had ever thought or imagined that one day life would come to a standstill, it will force us to lock ourselves up from friends, family and loved ones, it will instill fear in our hearts the likes of which were previously not known, it will discourage social contact, disrupt businesses, close down schools, shatter the stock markets, shut down eating places and force us in to self imposed confinement. Could it be the start of an apocalypse? Is it a sinister plan of some evil mind? Is it some large and grand conspiracy? Thanks to the social media we now get news (both wanted as well as unwanted) from around the globe in almost real time. And when you’re grounded as bad as this, negative news starts hitting you real hard. And so it happened to a lot of us. Self quarantine as it is called places at our disposal time, something which we had started running short of. The daily routine from 9 to 5, well actually from 5 to 9 was taxing, it was tiring, mentally and physically, and there would be days I wanted and dreamed of a break. In some tender moments of life I wished for a recluse, for peace, for confinement perhaps. Lo and behold it was granted albeit in a scary and disturbing way. So now its been a lock-down generally all over the globe as the virus has spread all corners of the globe thanks to unchecked international travel.
The society has adopted faster to the change, our local mart for instance has imposed strict rules for shopping. All buyers are made to wait outside in a queue at least 5 feet apart, a guard ensures the discipline, a single person is allowed entry at one time, on entrance he/she is asked to use the sanitizer to disinfect their hands, they are allowed to have one round of the mart and pick the things they need, at the register plastic money is preferred and paper money discouraged. While the whole routine takes a little more time than usual but ensures that everyone is safe from the scourge. My kid I was surprised to see was using Google classroom for doing his homework. A fast learned he is, something I learned about him. A visit to the bank was no different, masked guards with polythene gloves made me sanitize my hands before going in and using the ATM machine. Inside everyone wore a mask and gloves, while maintaining the mandatory 5 or 6 feet distance. Taking a cue from this we placed home made hand santitizer in the entrance. All those entering and leaving the house, use it. The maid was told not to come for work, but she was also told she will get her salary regardless, till thing is over, in God’s good time. Junior’s tuition is now held over Skype! This spares the tutor a visit and keeps all of us and him safe. The helper in our house has been understanding, instead of going to his village, he has been accommodating so far.
Sure enough, I registered in online courses and have made good progress so far, have had long walks in late evenings, jogged, read and re-read, it is my conviction that when this thing is over, life is not going to be the same. It will change for all of us, it will make us better in many ways. Though for the poor souls out there who earn a daily wage it is tough now, but will become better, subsequently. It will change our living habits, or cleanliness and hygiene standards, our socializing, the way we work (right now schools have shifted to online education for example, and work is also mostly online, or work form home). The future will be different, it will leave us better prepared for the coming times, which in my opinion will be more challenging. Consider this, all the technology, missiles, guns and rockets have been rendered useless due to an organism not visible to the naked eye. Doesn’t it in some way mean to say or tell us about our helplessness?
In writing all of this, what I learned is to stay away from negative social media, and of course electronic media. While it is good to be connected and updated, it is at the same time worrying and sad to come to know about the number infections and deaths increasing on daily basis. So the trick is to be selective, spending all day long on whats-app is not a good idea. A friend working in a lonely spot confided in me his depression, who was aptly advised to stay away form social media. Humans are social beings, loneliness alone is enough to kill our spirits, and add to it, negative news, well there you have it, the prefect recipe for self destruction. A close friend who is quite non religious joked that he was almost proselytized back in to Islam after following the news. Then there is that dear friend of mine in far off lands who got pain in legs for last 10 days and can’t go out. Sure enough, nature works in strange ways indeed, for these are not times to go out, are they. A whats-app text chat with a cousin in the middle east made me realize I wasn’t alone in this predicament. She coaxed me to visit them when this things is over, saying we have been missing the little but important things in life.
While it is not good to be confined in a limited space, to be not able to go to work, socialize, shop and eat out, on the contrary this has given us more time. The human race is adaptive and this very nature is necessary for one’s survival, and so all of us have adopted our lives to the change. It is fun to have at least two meals with family, to watch a comedy show, share information, educate oneself and kids and talk about things in life. Sure enough I am getting lots of sleep, there’s time to watch some long plays on Netflix, lots of time to read, to spend with family, to make phone calls, to Skype, socialize on media, do some DIY at home, clean my guns, carry out small repairs at home, fix things etc, but most important of all it gave me time for introspection, time to reflect and think about things that are important in life, things that actually matter, or to say the meaning of life. This I believe has been the greatest asset that the self quarantine has given me. It forced me think about the necessity of things, about the need of living space actually required to live life, about the possessions which we hold so dearly to, about relationships, about love, existence, God Almighty, life in the hereafter, the meaning of me, family values, pain, hate, need, care, help and what not. While kids stay glued to PS4 and gadgets which they must in these desolate times as going out to play is discouraged, I have found found peace and answer to so many things, as time remained still to think and with little to act.
One day this thing will be over, God willing, and we all await that time. The important thing in my opinion is not to forget this time and the lessons learned during this baneful period. My best wishes for you and your families. Loves