What came in as a panic news, is now being digested, understood and taken with pinch of positivity by people across geographies, age groups, and socio-economic backgrounds. While there are regular reality checks and a sense of constant fear built in by news channels, and social media as the world witnesses an increasing number of cases, deaths, an economic crisis and worsening conditions of the poor; the supposedly superior human species, is soon realizing the power of a sub-microscopic agent, in this case, Coronavirus or Covid-19.
Just before finishing this piece, I was checking messages on one of the many WhatsApp groups on my phone, about how everyone is getting bored, feeling lonely or taking this time as a ‘blessing in disguise’ to work on themselves.
Whilst I understand all these feelings, I can’t help but feel a sense of discomfort in realizing this privilege and the liberty to get bored at home, while many struggle to save lives.
As some of us are reflecting on our privileges and feeling grateful for being safe inside the comforts of our homes, it is also important to not dwell in that sentiment, accept it as a factual reality of life and do the best you can.
To help visualise this process, and lift up spirits, I tried to sum up a week in the life of a ‘quarantine’ - a term I satirically use to refer to the youth of this country bound to their homes, in this lockdown situation:
Day 1: WHAT JUST HAPPENED!
For almost all of us, this is a time we could have never imagined would take place in our respective lifetimes. Well, it is here now, and nobody knows for sure what to do and how to react! There is a wave of uncertainty in the air. There is a lockdown in the country. There is a REAL pandemic! About 2 weeks back, as the PM of India announced a 21 day lockdown in the country, most of us were in consternation and confusion. This disease had caused something we had only seen in movies, and it was here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.
So, what did we do next? We obviously turned to our best friend, the internet, and overloaded ourselves with as much information as it could provide to us. Amidst fake news and misinformation, like cow’s urine and sound waves across the country having the ability to kill the virus, we soon realized which sources to rely on and tried our best to explain the same to our WhatsApp university graduates - our parents and relatives.
Day 2: WORK FROM HOME
For a lot of us, this was a first. ‘So, we don’t have to exhaust half of our salaries, time and the will to live in a cab?’ Didn’t sound so bad. At least for starters, we were all happy to embrace the calm in the chaos.
Indeed, like the virus itself, this came with a lot of unforeseen challenges – from a firm level to an individual level. Economies across the world are facing a slump and various sectors, some more than the others, have witnessed a decline in stocks and business. The travel industry has, for eg., began lay-offs and pay cuts in order to sustain, in turn bringing down the morale of employees as well. Remote working came with its own pros and cons, with team coordination, productivity concerns at one end and personal growth and recovery time on the other.
Day 3: GRATITUDE KICKS IN
As we got so busy cribbing about not being able to go out with friends and sulking about being ‘stuck at home’, we also became oblivious to the miseries of the millions who were exposed to this disease either due to their lack of privilege or simply because their job role entails relentlessly working on the frontline to save lives every single day.
However, media channels and in the millennial case, social media plays a major role in helping us realize that this is not the ‘much needed time’ and a ‘blessing in disguise’. Making the most of this time is definitely something we all should be practicing, but doing our bit for the warriors out there fighting against this pandemic is as essential, if not more. And above it all stands acknowledging this privilege and not exploiting it. It has been heart-warming to see organizations, world leaders and the people, stand together in support during this crisis.
Day 4: 21 DAYS A HABIT
Soon our over enthusiasm kicked in and the ‘hustling’ generation couldn’t wait to make this lockdown into a race for self-improvement, self-realization, self-introspection and what not! Enter – Online workouts, online cooking classes, online games, online life (like it wasn’t dominated by the presence of the internet already). We wanted to get everything done in one day. And hence, we took up the challenge to build 210 habits in 21 days. It’s true that with today’s fast paced life, one is often looked down upon if they are not ‘hustling enough’ or putting themselves out there. But something which always stands in contrast to that is how there is a new-found realization for self-love and taking care of one’s mental health. So, we decide to work 9 hours, learn a new language, cook, do an online course, workout, meditate, spend time with family, read books, and cover up on sleep, all at once!
Day 5: COMING BACK TO REALITY
This illusion soon revealed itself into the logical conclusion that not all habits can be made at once. And especially that not everything can be achieved in a day. Hence, reality kicked in. We dropped some habits, continued with the others. By now it had become a way of life, a new way, which nobody would’ve ever thought would come.
Day 6: IT’S THE WEEKEND ALREADY?
When we hit the first weekend, however, it didn’t quite seem like a change, for obvious reasons. We were missing the sense of getting the much-needed weekend relaxation and catching up with friends. Would this time made us drift apart, keep us all locked in in our homes? It turns out, it actually brought us closer! We now spend more time with our family, who always complained of our long work hours, we are catching up with long lost friends, we are feeling a sense of belongingness and unity in fighting this misery together. Most of all, we have started reconnecting with ourselves!
Day 7: ACCEPTANCE AND AWAKEN
After a week full of revelations and realizations, we came to accept that even though this will go down as a dark time in the history of the world, it is, in fact, something more than that. A rock on a hiker’s route to nudge him to change the path from hereon, it is, admittedly, a life changing time.
It made the biggest industry giants fall on their knees, the most powerful institutions helpless, the magnificent pride of homo sapiens crippled at the sight of an organism almost negligible in size in front of them and the inherent human nature of being reluctant to change changing itself. What is it, if not a strong reminder for us all to look back on the other side of this period and reflect on our actions. At how we took things for granted, didn’t treat the environment with the respect it deserved and established ourselves as the superior, know-it-all species of the world. Maybe this hard time is indeed, our mother (nature), here to slap us in the face and teach us a much-needed lesson. To learn to take a different course of life from hereon. We will fall again, after all, to err is human, but, we will hopefully remember these days and alter our behaviours when we fall back into ungratefulness, and write a better story – one that we all are proud to share with the generations to come!