Waking up amidst a thick cloud of smoke, one is in a state of joy...
So near but too far…
It was 7:30 on a Saturday morning in spring 2020. I had one hour left before my call with my Squash friends call, in the so called “new normal” days….hence, I decided to take a walk in the garden… I took a walk in the garden, enjoying the sight of new rose buds, wondering why the seeds that I had sowed a few weeks back did not grow, in some cases, attempted to dig around the place where I sow the seeds to see if there has been any signs of growth, picked some weeds, talking to the plants, cursing the foxes that damaged my relatively new lawn…., I came back and looked at the clock. It was only 7:35 ☹. Prepared my toast, sat in the conservatory on my Ikea comfort chair, looking at the garden, my memory went a few months back….
Saturday morning 8 am has been squash time for the last several years…. Most of the time, we had very competitive games, but more than squash, the group enjoyed the tea time after that, where we spoke on various topics everything under the sun, from politics to economy to culture to girls. My wife knows this well and would plan the weekend calendar around this. None of my squash friends knew that this would not be normal in the so called “new normal” days.
An idea will come in my wife’s mind from no where, when she has no mood to cook. Today, we will go the nearest mall, do some shopping, have our breakfast there and spend Saturday morning out…. Despite there would be no real need driving for the shopping, clothes, sun glasses, handbags, some curvatures and all those will come home. It goes without saying they were uninvited guests to my house. It was not in either of our dreams that this would be considered as a non-normal behavior in the so called “new normal” days.
We always had a packed social calendar. Birthday parties, wedding anniversaries, temple functions, random invitation from a distant friend, packed our weekend. Classic ladies politics and collection to buy “that unique memorable present😊”, arguments between me and my wife on the amount of time taken for getting ready, my wife asking me to drive faster to reach the destination on time, me resisting to drive faster for the fear of getting a ticket, meeting friends, hugging them, sitting next to one another, making fun of two people sitting close to each other, whispering a gossip or a dirty joke to a close friend, lots of laughter, having lots of food (even after the stomach says ‘STOP. I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE’ but the mind commands to push that one gulab Jamun down the throat) and many more… It never occurred to anyone that this would be considered as a non-normal behavior in the so called “new normal” days.
The unplanned restaurant visit, the uninvited friends visit, the visit to the cinema, theatre, hanging-out in the high street, the street cricket, visit to the temple, leave alone daily trip to work etc. etc…what ever we thought as normal and took them for granted, is not normal in the “new normal” days….
I am no exception to anyone else, always hated to get up early in the morning, to get ready to work, the rush hour train, the fast pace running to the work, and always wanted to retire soon. I always longed to have that extra holiday, that long weekend, that off-sick to deal with that man’s flu. All of which we thought as normal. Not in my dream, that those normal things would become non normal in the “new normal” days.
That five letter word that can’t be seen but only be felt (for all the Shaivaits, it is not Nama Shivaya) has put all the things that are so near to a far off distance. It is that word that which any normal human being living in the world should have come-across maximum number of times, more than any other word that he came across in his entire life. Yes. It is COVID.
It is that word that has put all my friends who lives close by, the cinemas, the shopping malls, the small joy of shopping, that guilty food, my wife’s guilty shopping, the parties, the temples, that unwanted visit to restaurants, the holiday, every thing so far, that is now looks like a dream. Yes. All those are so close, but too far.
The clock ticked 8:30 and the long awaited call from my squash friends came and yes… This is our “new normal” days….
Wearing masks, gloves, personal hygiene, maintaining social distancing, talking to friends on Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype etc… have become normal our “new normal” days.