I wake up at 6:00 am and already my heart is thumping out of my chest, filled with adrenaline. My eyes hurt and my head is throbbing.
7:00 am. One child still hasn’t finished breakfast and the other is refusing to wear his uniform. Plus the kitchen sink is overflowing with dishes. Did I remember to send out that email last tonight? I hope so, the deadline is 9am this morning. Where’s my phone? No battery… Ah, finally washing machine has stopped! Only have two more loads to go through before I leave for work.
8:00 am. Moment of peace. Hang on, where’s the cleaning staff? Decided to take a day off AGAIN? Great, I’ll have to vacuum, mop, dust and check if I sent that email all before 9am.
8:45 am. Done. Will have to do remainder laundry at night. For now I need to get into the shower, check email… wait, I’ll do it now. Oh no! It didn’t go through! Send now, now, NOW!
8:50 am. Email sent. Confirm with boss. Why is the school calling me? Oh great, little one has not taken his swimming kit in today – was it even swimming class today? Forget it. Rush to work.
9:10 am. Still on the road. Traffic jam due to car crash with rickshaw. A crowd has gathered, watching. Wish I had that kind of time. Wish I had all the time in the world to think, breathe and just be.
6:00 am. Eyes open but there’s a stillness in the air. I don’t have the same panic about school and breakfast. School uniforms remain unworn. But I don’t feel relaxed. I need to clean, clean and clean. Cleanliness is Godliness they said but now it’s a matter of life and death. Boss’s emails from yesterday remind me I need to get to work. Work from home. Home-school. Home just became Another Building.
8:00 am. Put the laundry out in the sun to dry. I don’t hear the raddi-wallah, the mazdoors building the house in front or the wailing of the neighbour’s babies. Silence. A bird chirrups somewhere. There is life but not as I know it. My dining table is now my office… I miss my planner which lies in the ‘real’ office. Will I ever get it back?
9:00 am. House is clean. Food is cooking. Kids are playing. I have work to do. Logging on to post on social media I search for the usual dose of news, politics, media skill development courses but nothing is there. COVID! COVID! COVID!
11:00 am. I need to leave the house to buy groceries. Reaching for bag I touch unfamiliar things. A bottle of sanitizer. A face mask. Plastic gloves. Why is this so unnatural yet the cause is natural? Has Mankind finally knelt before Mother Nature? The roads are empty. Men cover their faces – part of me wants to ask these menfolk, “Now do you know how it feels?!” but I find it to be a hollow sentiment. Lives are at stake.
11:30 am. Videos of rural artisans my colleague sends me give a sense of gratitude. And a sense of uneasiness. This kind of suffering is a whole new ball game and posting it in desperate hope of finding relief for others is a new level of professionalism. I find it hard to keep track of time which has lost all meaning.
4:00 pm. I see children playing outside as sunlight pours onto them. They run between the laundry that the wind blows around them. It’s a happy peaceful sight but wait! There’s a shadow looming over them but they face it with a sense of calm. “We used the sanitiser and our hands are clean,” they say, worried I might complain about dirty hands on the clean laundry. “That’s not the point,” I want to say but stop.
Do they even understand the threat of Covid?
I show them the videos my colleague has shared and they ask: “Do they have food? Can they meet their friends?” I have no answers anymore.
I see the lockdown effect already, the craving for human touch, the need for a ‘home’ and not a ‘shelter’. But this is it. This is the dawn of a new, sanitised era.