I’m mindful to the very irony hence my hesitation in penning this post down as it’ll probably only add to the noise roaring around us all in this moment of time which sure is a weird one. I mean I’m sure this planet’s seen many an eerie times pass it by but for us mere here-on-borrowed-time current occupants – this definitely is unprecedented.
In a role reversal, millennials have been heard screeching at their parents to get back in the house this past week. Celebrities in Mumbai are doing their own jhaadu pocha. The typical laid-back Aussie bloke whose civic duty only extended as far their backyard barbie is having a go at beach-patrol officers about his ‘right’ and ‘freedom’ to be at the beach and the only curve fashion industries are interested in fitting right now is definitely not my apple-shaped belly!
This past 2 weeks I’ve seen friends, work colleagues, closest persons react to this whole situation in ways I would have never imagined. Even persons I looked up to completely lost their shit. World leaders who I thought would come through in times of crisis lost all sense of direction. And no I’m not writing this from a place of all calm and zen; it just hasn’t hit me yet. And as a late reactor to most things in life, I can only hope that when I do loose my marbles over the impacts of this pandemic that all my people have figured out what to say to me for comfort by then because I sure as hell didn’t.
No matter how cool and collected I kept, how much reassuring rationale I gave – there was no way I could comfort a sibling at the brink of loosing their job, nothing I said to my favourite cafe owner could get them to smile away the fear in their eyes, none of my steady actions in resolving work matters merited to anything last week because with the stock markets down – what was the point really.
My 14-day self-isolation period ended today (because of course I had to be on a plane the very weekend they brought in the decree) and while I’ve had a head start many I know are probably in a locked-down situation from late last week or starting today And general consensus is how ‘quiet’ it has become in everyone’s cities, neighbourhoods, countries.
But I don’t hear it.
Actually it’s the loudest we’ve ever been. Instead of allowing ourselves to quieten down within, inside our heads, like our surroundings are adjusting to being – we’ve gone ahead and filled our days with every other kind of virtual bullshit to maintain ‘connectedness’. I’ve got invites to “House Party”, e-drinkies, online gaming, photo and video challenges.
From my social media feeds, I make there are two kinds of people in the world right now. One who are in defiant of what’s happening and have gone on a personal jihad to be not locked down and are posting pictures of themselves “living their full lives” and the other scared out of their wits and are sharing every possible gharelu nuska (home remedy) to prevent catching this virus.
And amongst ourselves we have created so much ruckus that it’s hard to differentiate what’s remotely logical and what’s just absurdly stupid. Like this whole “Earth is healing” bullshit. Listen here, if you were so concerned about the fucking Earth where were you in the last climate change march that went through your city? Sorry where? That’s right. Stop with the “positive posts” to make yourself feel better about what a miserable sod you’ve been to this planet. And by the way – there are no dolphins coming back to the canals of Venice, okay – stop.sharing.that.shit. And yeah about your workout videos…
I suppose what I’m saying here is – this is not the time for you to share your 2 cents worth. And definitely not the time for you to realise your inner Bhagat Singh and take to the streets. Unless you’re someone in essential services and by which I mean either working for WHO, the police or the government (no matter how a pathetic job you feel the Administration are doing) – someone whose actually “qualified” and “authorised” to share information – DON’T. All you’re doing is clogging up channels where people can access verified information. Older people heck most people don’t know how to filter fake news on social media and end up believing everything being shared.
Suruj called me last week in a panic “Vijay Narayan has started giving updates on the radio, my heart just went dhak – feels like the coup days again” – I ached to give her a hug and say everything’s fine, ma. But how could be my hug compare to “Vijay Narayan”. To my 63-year old mother and many of her generation, hearing Vijay Narayan on the radio means something is very, very wrong in the country. Since then she’s been forwarding me every other bit of information she sees on FB and WhatsApp on how to be ‘safe’, insistent I start eating raw onions!
Look I understand that this quietness is scary. And I totally get sharing a “till tomorrow” on Insta gives you some sense of normalcy. But nothing and I mean nothing is normal about the times we live in but instead of trying to drown it out – how about we embrace this quietness? Welcome it. Even though apprehensively but still give it chance for all it has brought with itself. A chance to stay home (remember the number of times you said not too long along you didn’t want to go to work!), a chance to reconnect with the people you actually live with (not the ones outside of it), a moment to catch a reflection of yourself in the mirror and let your eyes linger on the beautiful lines you didn’t notice lately which have softened themselves into a home around your face.
I have no words of comfort for the worry you’re harbouring in yourself in this very moment. Whether it’s about the rent this week, your job next month or the fees for this year. But what I do know is if we keep this uproar up, we’ll just keep going in circles.
If we all just let ourselves be quiet, give it some space, it might just pass us by.