15th March 2020: It was a typical, relaxed Sunday which most of us spent lazing in our homes, browsing newspapers, flipping television channels, catching up with family; all the while sipping our favourite brews whether it was an ice tea, cold coffee, beer or the humble cutting chai.
Everyone had an inkling that with a few coronavirus cases being detected in some states across the country and with many more expected, a few changes in the country’s functioning might be around the corner. Little did anyone know, that life as we knew it, was about to change completely!
Ignoring the reality, we persisted with normalcy; making plans not just for the coming week, but even for the next few months. There was work to be done, things to be bought and countless goals to be pursued. We were all working for a backbreaking twelve hours and more every day, yet it just didn’t seem enough! We were hungry to work for longer hours, after all, wasn’t that going to be the key, to achieving success and recognition and financial stability? There would be time later, to devote to people and activities we loved.
24th March 2020: On this day, India entered a 21-day lockdown and the life of every citizen of this country was irrevocably changed, some far more than others. For those working in healthcare branches, which largely dealt with elective procedures, their workload experienced a steep drop. Those working in corporate conglomerates began working from home, while those engaged in sectors such as hospitality, fitness etc., found their industries coming to an absolute standstill.
For frontline health care workers, bank officials, sanitation workers, police officers – their working hours exponentially increased. For daily wage workers, who suddenly found themselves unemployed, it became a fight for survival. The alternate universes inhabited and the widely disparate lives led by the citizens of India suddenly became apparent to all.
What could all of these different groups of people possibly have in common?
Was there nothing in common between them or was it that everything that mattered, was the same?
Yes, they all differed in their educational, social and economic backgrounds, but as members of the human race with a constantly ticking brain and a thumping heart, the same things mattered to all. What were these? In the course of the present lockdown, we find that the answers have changed and rather than wanting more, we are desperate to protect what is already ours.
Before the lockdown, what we all had in common, was a deep-seated ambition, to create what we perceived would be a better life for ourselves and our families. For someone, it may have been a desire to buy a house, for someone else, it was a sports car and for someone, it even may be a desire to send their child to school. Different desires, different perceptions of what is luxury to us, but the sentiment behind each wish was the same. And what did lockdown do? Ruthlessly, it brought all these plans to a halt!
For some like me, who were still being paid or who received financial support from family members, this just meant keeping some of their desires on the backburner. Days passed, and as we read and saw people suffering from the disease and the economic fallouts of the lockdown, our ambitions gradually became replaced by relief. We realised we already had so much – food, housing, security and beyond that a good health and family, who would regularly neglect in the pursuit of work.
Of course, we spent time with our families even before, but never the way we did now without a constant shadow of worry about pending work cast on our mind. What if this lockdown hadn’t happened? Would we have let life pass us by without spending meaningful time with family and someday unexpectedly life may have forever snatched the opportunity from our hands?
The free time also gave us an opportunity to rediscover lost talents. Suddenly we were writing, singing, gardening, cooking, a whole lot more and it brought us so much joy. What is life without this feeling of exhiliration? Don’t we owe it to ourselves to create that joy for ourselves, every day from now on? The uncertainty of the situation was a cruel but much-deserved reminder for us, that the only time to live life to the fullest is NOW!
This wasn’t an awakening or realisation which was limited to only the middle and upper classes. Even daily wage workers were determined to walk for miles in the burning heat to reach their hometowns and family, whom they had left behind in search of work. Many of them, have now resolved to create work opportunities in their home towns itself. Even they realised, that a life spent away from the place and people you love in a fickle metropolitan city is no life at all. For those migrating back now, leaving home at present is more of an economic compulsion than a true desire to return to the metropolitan cities.
During the lockdown, we became a much warmer, kinder and less self-obsessed race. Many helped atleast a few people, who stayed in their vicinity. Some went even further and touched hundreds of lives with food distribution drives. Even those without much to call their went out of the way to help others. The world around us starting basking in this glow of mutual care and love.
We all understood what had been long ignored, we could only be as safe as happy as those around us. Keeping them safe, was the best way to keep ourselves safe too. Everyone was drowning under the burden of financial general health or mental health issues. The only way to survive was to give each other, a leg up.
15th June 2020: Presently, lockdown restrictions have been eased in many cities of India. While cases are still rising, most of us have accepted it as a situation which has no immediate resolution in sight. Life seems to be slowly limping back to normalcy. The question is should we go back to living the life the way we did, in pre-lockdown times? Can we not resolve to work passionately and sincerely each day but still keep aside moments for families and activities that make our souls thrive? Is it not time to focus on creating a country where there are equal opportunities at equal distances for all? So, people need not have to leave their families and home behind in search of work opportunities.
What should really matter to us?
- To ensure ambition, family and hobbies gracefully co-exist in our lives.
- To move ahead together, leaving no one behind
- To live each day as if it may be our last!