Saturday, April 10, 2021

A Good Thing


Lockdown Diary

It’s a warm balmy April night. I sit with my mother in the balcony. A rapt silence rules the apartment lawns around us. After a long sigh, Mummy mutters, ‘When will this end?’

The stars above us are specs on a hazy charcoal canvass. An occasional flight blinks in the sky, telling us that things are not normal but life goes on.

Same time last year, nature had claimed its territories and the sky was ablaze with stars. Haze had cleared to give us a glimpse of snow capped peaks from as far as Saharanpur. Remember, Hyderabad had spotted a leopard on a busy highway? Noida had galloping Nilgais. Why, my own A-ha moment was spotting a Kingfisher in the land of pesky pigeons.

As May and June broke lazily and lockdowns melted into each other the occasional, ‘When will this get over?’ became a weekly thing. 
‘By Diwali this pandemic will disappear like Sars,' I assured. ‘We’ll burn a bonfire of masks and dance to drumbeats in Holi 21. And then plan a trip to Chicago.’

There was hope.

With the ominous rumblings of clouds, monsoon arrived and restrictions eased over time. The house helps were back, as was air travel and eating out. Small steps but as delightful as moist clouds scudding over my condominium.

Diwali, unfortunately saw another deluge of cases. And a 75th birthday remained muted. A landmark anniversary celebrated over Zoom. A wedding cancelled. A job lost. A life mourned.

And yet, there was hope.

‘When will this end?’ her voice now had a desperate tone. 

‘Soon,’ I sighed. ‘This will soon turn into an endemic. We can live with that, right?’

‘I’m not asking for much. I only want to see my dentist, go to the bank and hug my grandchildren without this gnawing fear,’ she said.
So what if we didn’t have a normal 2020, we will have a blast in the New Year. The promise of vaccines held light within.

A refreshing March arrived holding bright spring in its arms. As more and more people got vaccinated, it was time to book tickets to Goa, fix wedding venues and fly to meet the grandparents.
And then the adage, ‘Life happens to you when you are making other plans’ sprang up to ring true.

The respite was short-lived.


We were back in the prickly arms of March 2020. Forget dancing around a mask bonfire, I was ordering a N95 to ditch fancy cloth masks.

Worse, now we had mutants. And ominous words like ‘immunity escape’. When the world ought to move on, it was going on and on in tiresome waves.

The goalpost has now shifted to 2022. Because there is that stubborn thing. Hope. It sees light despite all the darkness. It jumps months, leaps years.

So when mother asks, ‘When will this end?’ I joke, ‘Soon. Hamari filmon ki tarah, end me sab theek ho jata hai. Agar theek na ho to picture abhi baki hai.’

Mom regains enough pep to retort. ‘Don’t give me Bollywood crap.’

‘Ok, Hollywood crap chalega?’ I chuckle. ‘You should watch Shawshank Redemption.’

‘What’s that?’

‘Same thing in English,’ I smile. ‘That hope is a good thing. Probably, best of all. And a good thing never dies.’

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