Summing up the pandemic

Monday Musing

[ Karyir Riba ]

Being a mother in the time of the Covid-19 lockdown is no child’s play. While others complain of boredom, we are only tired and fatigued. And no, this fatigue is not to be mistaken for a symptom of contacting the deadly virus (god forbid), but has been caused by extreme physical and mental exertion from trying to keep our children entertained.
As it is, 45 days between March and April is the session-end vacation period for my kids. It is the time which they enjoy with their cousins, go out on picnics and outings, visit their grandparents and great-grandparents. In short, it is my older son’s most awaited holiday time with no homework or study time. Last year he had joined badminton classes, and this time had planned to join the football coaching classes.
So now, given the lockdown, all the plans we had made have been thrown out of the window. They have been spending their days playing games on the phone, switching to the PlayStation, watching some television, and then back to the phone.
My children have been watching so much TV that as soon the ad says ‘asli masale sach sach’ my three-year-old says ‘MDH, MDH!’
At first we found it hilarious, but my husband and I realized that if we don’t do everything in our power to keep our kids entertained, this routine might turn into their habit.
So, keeping our dread of the deadly virus that is causing havoc around the globe aside, we try to do various activities with them that do not involve any screen time. So it has been endless hours of playing zombies, superheroes fighting to save the world, and whatnot. Whatever comes to their super imaginative minds, we just play along.
Apart from breaking our backs, we have ensured that both of them are well-informed about the coronavirus and what precautions are to be taken to keep it away. We have gone the military way and have put them on an hourly hand-washing drill.
As for the two of us, we do have our ‘me time’, which we have started calling “mama time” and “naba time.” We use it to connect with the outside world, and get even more scared. The growing figures of the infected persons and the dead can really take a toll on your stress level and mental wellbeing.
If not for all the funny memes and videos about the Covid-19 situation, I would have lost my sanity by now. A little laugh a day is helping me get through. God bless those creative people and give them more strength.
You know how in horror movies and zombie movies we see some characters moving towards danger. It always made me wonder how lame the storywriter was as it didn’t make any sense for a person to go out into a dark alley just to check what had made some stupid sound, only to be killed mercilessly by some entity.
Now I have an undying respect for those storywriters, after having seen firsthand how people are defying the lockdown orders of the government. Someone somewhere has very aptly coined the word ‘Covidiots’.
I am in no way encouraging any kind of alcohol consumption, but sometimes a tired mother (and a human being coexisting with covidiots) needs her bit of relaxants. Too afraid to leave the house, I tried calling a couple of liquor shop owners nearby to ask them if they were doing some ‘backdoor business’. Either they were too scared of the authorities or they had been receiving too many similar calls, because both of them had very obviously put their phone on the ‘do not disturb’ mode. So, I had a big mug of coffee that evening. Believe me, no amount of coffee can work magic like a good glass of wine.
On the brighter side, we are fortunate to have open spaces and some kind of outdoor area in our homes, where we can get our kids out for a while. I, for one, make sure that my boys get out for at least an hour to play and release all that energy, mainly to make them not feel the pressure of being locked down. Our porch area has always been our favourite hanging out place, and now more so. My heart goes out to parents who are having to take care of their children in closed apartments, sometimes with very little outdoor space, if none.
While stocking up on grocery for our family of four, I had made sure to get eatables that my kids like without making any fuss. So now I have six large packets of cheese slices and various bread spreads, but no bread. I had completely forgotten that the bakery would not be in business during the lockdown. Thankfully, their father is an experimental cook, so I am convinced these food items won’t go to waste. The other day, he turned leftover parathas into pizzas!
Speaking of grocery and other essential items, it was very heartbreaking to watch a video in which young college students from the Northeast were not given entry into a departmental store somewhere in ‘mainland’ India. When Mary Kom from Northeast India brings home gold medals, she goes unnoticed, the Northeast goes unnoticed. However, just because Covid-19 originated in China, now us Northeasterners have been tagged as ‘coronavirus’. Just because we do not look ‘Indian’, we have to face racism in our own country. Denying access to food to fellow humans in these difficult times – that, too, based on their facial features! Some idiotic ‘mainland’ Indians have never failed to seize the opportunity to show us how high they can go on the racism level.
The lockdown has in more ways than one reminded us of the importance of growing our own food and having a kitchen garden. Growing herbs and some seasonal vegetables can prove to be very helpful, especially in times like this when you can’t just hop in your car and drive to the market to get that bunch of coriander, or your mint and chillies.
Having said all of the above, these are testing times, but we must understand that one wrong move of ours can put many others in danger. Prevention is better than cure, but since Covid-19 doesn’t have a cure yet, we are left only with the former option – that is to take all the preventive measures that we can. As parents, deem it important to inform your children about the virus and make them aware. Do not leave your homes until and unless it is a matter of life and death. We can break the chain only through social distancing.
Reports about how the lockdown has impacted daily wage earners and other unfortunate sections of the society remind us to count our blessings. Remember the depressing video of how some labourers who walked miles for days to get home were doused with chemicals to ‘disinfect’ them? On the other hand, we are comfortably put in our spacious houses, we have clean running water, food to eat, televisions, computers and the internet to keep us entertained. Most importantly, we are with our family. It’s not like we have too much to complain about, right?
Stay home and stay safe everyone.