The past year left us sulking in the lockdown. And as for we NRI's, it has been a double nightmare, not being able to travel to India, especially for us from the Middle East who take frequent trips to India. We sing in chorus now ___ "Pal pal dil ke paas, tum rehte ho". I had bloated philosophically while my friends reminded me to write my satire or humour as I did some time back, before COVID-19.
The lockdown has although stopped me from traveling to India and wail but given me brighter opportunities to claw upon and crib. We have bid goodbye to the "bayi" and (cleaner) boy, and have conferred upon ourselves awards, running "Swach ghar abhiyaan". Men are only grumbling as they run dishwashers. But my grievances in the pandemic are severe. I have lost all my property rights now. My 7-year-old has seized my coveted study. The table is decorated with flying worksheets. "My" laptop is loaded with zoom links that say "Ms. Aofie English class", "Ms. Reynolds Music class". The lovely mornings that I romanced with my thoughts and scribbled random in my blog or my archives, are now "Woh bhooli daasthan". Now, I print and upload his homework. Looking at the brighter side, I have learned basic Arabic from his classes and also enjoyed Ms. Reynold's music lessons. All I share with this room now is the -- "Kabhi khushi kabhi gham" relationship.
I can not travel often to these two rooms from where the voices of different teachers resonate. Another room has turned into a branch of Birla Public Indian School, Class 12. My older one's. Well-dressed teachers in suits and sarees teach Psychology and Economics. I dare not enter the room. I fear a Zoom bomb dropped on me "Yes, you, answer this question". My school time and exam time dreams still haunt me. Sometimes, when the head of the family turns my only bedroom into his workplace, is when I feel doomed. The living room couch is ouch, in denial upon my entry. The kitchen hates me after my new arguable relationship status with the men in red Tee who come on their bikes delivering food at any time of the day or night.
But, the solo traveler inside me stubbornly doesn't give up. And, I take additional trips to the garbage chute rooms in our apartment to dispose of trash and claim good hygiene maintained in my house. Who knew, the trash chute room is now the new kitty (which I dread). Ladies from neighbouring flats join me in discussing woes. We care to leave the place when men walk in to do away with trash and throw astonished looks at us. With this fear, I then take a long journey to the Lulu Supermarket. Romancing with the vegetables, pulses, soaps, and shampoos on offers. Walking past the cold dairy section, I fantasize about my Georgia visit which just got cancelled during the first lockdown.
New life. New routines. But in 2021, today, for the first time I am upfront here-- "looks like I am fine here in Doha. Not traveling to India sooner". Many more are connecting to it too. NO! Not because of the mutating virus but because of the mutating hatred in India. Let those waves calm down and perish. The same me, that cribbed every year, for not staying a little more in India in spite of generously contributing to the Air India Express 3-4 tickets a year, for the first time in 15 years, is not the same this year.
So much hatred in people. The media is misbehaving like a spoilt brat. Why is the attitude towards the true COVID warriors so insensitive in India? We have memes portraying the doctors and police as heroes, "true warriors, we love you". But the same social media floods with videos with hate and abuse to police. A friend who is a doctor writes about people being negligent with their health, people taking beds in panic and not in an emergency, people scaring others unnecessarily. He pleads in public to support the doctors. Another friend says his old father who is a doctor is tired of educating people to get the PCR test done, but when things deteriorate these are the folks that blame the doctors, blame the government. And then forward cartoons with flying peacocks and disrespectful and insensitive images of authoritative Government officials. If we chuckle at them, we are at fault. Yes, we are. One day the virus will leave. The one in the air. But our minds that are conditioned with poison have no vaccine made by health care! When Albert Einstein said "The difference between stupidity and genius is that the latter has limits"; he was hell right.
I am another ordinary person. Not the "Aam Admi" though! If you know what I mean. I contribute to the economy. I exercise a vote. I care for the "real people in need". I do my bit. So I have the right to crib. Crib about why!
The Virus has turned the lover boy Dev from the movie Dhadkan, "Mein tumhe bhool javu yeh ho nahi saktha, aur tum mujhe bhool javo, yeh mein hone nahi doonga".
That is because we have conceptualized the "Hum saath saath hain" far too seriously. We are ordered by our government and health care officials to follow "isolation" but we have only glorified - "Pass woh aane lage zara zara". Little by little, we have loosened our fears. And ventured out enough in public. We do not wear masks and blame 2020 and 2021 that give us bad times.
Yes, no doubts, we will not remain masked forever. But for now, we must! There is no escape from the COVID unless we heap up sanitizers and glue our worthy selves indoors.
When priorities have dwindled and flawed, we are responsible. Change is certain. And I am simply praying for the change. Sooner the better.
This Badalthey Rishtey is so surreal!
And what can I say?. We are like this only.💓