Friday, September 18, 2020

Help! I have no idea what to do with my hard-earned Unlockdown

Has prolonged isolation robbed me of my ability to have a normal conversation again?  Should I move to a cottage in the hills and prepare for a rest of life in solitude! 

After all these months of keeping in touch with friends and family through WhatsApp forwards and emojis I have forgotten how to have an intelligent conversation. 

The much fantasised unlockdown has been set into motion. We are finally free to do what the government wants us to do - watch Arnab burst his capillaries on Republic TV as he brainwashes the masses.  But left to our own devices, we have no idea what to do outside of our homes anymore.

The thing with captivity is, after a while you get so comfortable with it, you start calling it the new normal. The initial few weeks of confinement are choppy though and bring out your inner Mamata Banerjee. You bang your dirty pots and pans, attack dirty floors with the mop, believe every conspiracy theory you read and oscillate between bouts of anger and fear. Then you get so used to spending your days like that lizard stuck to the wall in stupefied silence, it becomes your comfort zone.

One day after much deliberation and long winded  arguments with your inner-self, you step out armed with sanitizers, masks, and a fluttering heart to a world that isn’t the same anymore.

The dining precincts, pubs which would give you a happy headache with loud laughter, louder music as you waded through a sea of city dwellers desperate to have a good time, now resemble abandoned cities and civilisations. You can almost hear sad violin tunes playing in the background as tears run down your eyes and season your cheeks.

Perplexingly, local markets thronging with daredevils dressed like bank robbers in their masks on their chins and sunglasses don’t make you happy either. They make you nervous, fidgety and almost angry. 

Most of your friends are still revelling in the euphoria of saving the world by vegetating at home, not shackled by their bras. They mulishly refuse to pay heed to your pleas to meet. Luckily for you there are a few odd ones as desperate as you who you manage to coax out of their caves with the promise of a rainbow and reviving forgotten chemistry.

You trim your eyebrows and the cutsie moustache with the epilator you bought online because you don’t want to scare the poor things. For the first time in months you wear ironed clothes, part ways with your messy bun and discover you’ve forgotten eye makeup hacks that you’d picked up from YouTube tutorials. 

You haven’t been this excited since you whipped your first ever Dologona! Your heart is singing an aria.

Since no one invites anyone to their homes anymore, you decide on a clean pavement right outside. You start walking gingerly towards them, nervously waving and realise to your dismay you are waving them away. New habits picked up during a pandemic are hard to let go. Now you are praying they don’t hug you. They don’t. Can’t even air kiss because damn the aerosol theory. 

You clear your throat and start talking. They can’t hear a thing because the mask has happily absorbed your germs and your words. this is what eating your own words must feel like.

You are now shouting at each other and praying fervently that passerbys do not mistake you for Navika Kumar reporting live for Times Now.  One of you even says - am I audible? Can you hear me? Are you sure you haven’t turned mute on? And then sticks her tongue out because this is not a Zoom call.

The video of Arnab screaming ‘mujhe drugs do mujhe drugs do’ starts playing in your head in a loop and you start laughing hysterically. Your friends are now looking at you with a mixture of alarm and tender concern. You reassure them you are perfectly okay and veer the conversation towards ‘25 alarming findings about Covid.’ Everyone has joined in enthusiastically, including the chap doing burpees in the nearby park. He’s of course maintaining a 15 feet distance. You wish you had worn your specs because you can’t see his tattoos properly. You say damn loudly. Your buddies are looking at you again with dismay. You crack a fat joke to ease the tension. One of your friends starts sobbing loudly. She does look 20 pounds heavier than the last time you met her. Must be the banana breads she’s been baking every day. 

It’s getting super awkward. Suddenly you are longing for the comforting flicker of the TV as you binge watch another K drama on Netflix. The couch that has two large craters in the shape of your bum that feels like home. The soft feel of your pajamas with its many holes.

Oops, I forgot to feed Kartar Singh, my pet cockroach. I have to rush back. So sorry guys! Let’s meet soonest? My buddies are looking at me quizzically. So I sneeze loudly to make parting easier. Everyone is now running helter skelter in panic, including the burpee guy. 

As I am driving back home, I am horrified at how relieved I am feeling. My god, these are my comrades of good times, drunk nights, “ I’m going to puke right now, take me to a nearby bush” sisters! 

My heart is now sinking faster than the GDP. Maybe it’s God’s will that I have mutated into a socially awkward creature who’ll hide behind a pillar the moment she senses human presence. 

Has prolonged isolation robbed me of my ability to have a normal conversation again?  Should I move to a cottage in the hills and prepare for a rest of life in solitude! Or should I distract myself from my inevitable fall into a sinkhole by watching cat and dog videos and petting random peacocks!

How I wish I knew someone who has lived through a pandemic before and guided me through this mess! Unfortunately all of them are dead. The world has become a place I don’t recognise anymore. Fuck, I don’t recognise myself anymore! Blame the extreme emotions, mental trauma,constant anxiety. Every throat niggle has me convinced I am about to breathe my last in an isolation ward.

I hate that Covid has shrunk my world, my experiences and turned me into a caged animal. 

I desperately want to share the optimism of our elected however false it may be. On odd days our recovery is projected as U shaped, on even S, on bad days it’s W and on a good day it’s K.  I am fast running out of letters and patience. To maintain my sanity I’m bracing for a transition that'll be slow, a transition that will never get us back to a past we are pining for.  So maybe you and I should accept it’s okay to be weird because nothing is normal anymore. 


  1. Lol. V accurate. The comparison to lizard stuck on the wall was my line of the day. 😆🙈

    1. You should try it one of these days. Very relaxing

  2. Too good dear.... You echoed everything that runs through our minds nowadays

  3. The pet cockroach and loud sneeze paragraph - LOL! :)
    A dark truth written in a funny way. Will it really never be the same again? Even after a few years? Sigh .. I hope that is not true. But it is going to be tough to unlock ourselves. Though it is frustrating to make every meal, snack and chai/coffee ourselves day after day after day,a certain complacency has set in like its never going away! God save us!

    1. To be honest I've been going out but been meeting a select set of friends.

      Covid exhaustion is normal but then we also know the surging numbers will recalibrate us.

  4. Good to see your humour returning back from the pandemic which still rages on!

  5. OMG!! So accurate! the pet cockroach? Masterpiece?


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