[The following is the ranting of a sleep-deprived, anxiety riddled mind. Part fiction, part hallucination, part desperate attempt at humour. Try not to read too much into it]
This is day 526th of the national lockdown, or some figure close enough to that. I am not sure. Time has stopped holding much meaning for me. I register the passing of days through my sweeping ritual. Every time the broom hits the corner square at the back end of the master bedroom, and the long grassy tail-end moves in the exact same curvature to the next square, carrying the exact same amount of dust every single time, I realise with a jolt that a new day has come.
The house is sparkling. Baba has cleaned every single surface, every unreachable corner, every forgotten piece of furniture and decorative item. I am not kidding about this; he has even scrubbed the walls with soapy water. I think he is planning to start on a second round soon. (To all the men still sitting on their asses with wives or mothers or sisters waiting on them hand and foot: now is a great opportunity to show that you have some social utility beyond the bedroom. Oh, also shoot your female relatives; they are largely the reason why you are the way you are to begin with).
Speaking of household chores, doing the laundry is quickly topping the list of vital to-dos for me, even more than cooking. Here’s the thing, when I came home to Baba’s, I had planned to stay the weekend, not for a month. Guess how many sets of clothing I brought along, not to mention the unmentionables. I have raided old wardrobes and found stuff from my high school days. If nothing else causes a mental breakdown for me, there is always the thought that some of these skirts and pants actually fit my derriere once upon time. Once this whole thing gets over, I am going on a shopping spree the likes of which has never been witnessed in this family. Never again will I undermine the value of retail therapy. Minimalism is a beautiful thing for some, but if you really want to kill me, try knocking me out instead.
Entertainment, you say? Maybe I should read more. Yeah well, I have had the same idea, except it has to be a choice between Fifty Shades of Grey and The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. My mind refuses to concentrate on anything else. There are other self care options too, of course, such as hair and beauty treatments. I could always try at-home nose-piercing with a sewing needle, but I’m afraid that the mere hint of something like that will make Baba decide that it is finally time to pack me off to Ranchi. But once the lockdown lifts, I am definitely dyeing my hair neon pink. Or electric blue. The details still have to be finalized.
My respect for Anne Frank has increased manifold. She managed to survive for two whole years inside that secret annexe without losing her mind and biting one of her co-habitants. Two weeks, and my resolve is already weakening.
For someone who used to think that she enjoys solitude and a solitary lifestyle, I clearly love human contact far too much. So much, in fact, that I am contemplating downloading Tinder and swiping on candidates in Durgapur. That bad? That bad. And I miss work – or whatever it is that I pass off as work in the office. It is no fun being lazy and then be pulled up for it by your manager unless you can complain about it to your co-workers who for some strange reason still believe that you are a highly productive person.
My circadian cycle has gone for a toss. Until a few weeks ago, my ability to fall asleep quickly and deeply almost on demand was a source of equal degrees of awe and envy for many. Not anymore. Now I stay awake (or worse, nearly awake) almost the entire night, tossing and turning in bed and seeing all sorts of cockroaches, serial killers and demons lurking right outside my bedroom window, making the stray dog yelp pitiably every now and then. Whoever cast the evil eye on my beauty sleep, congratulations, it worked. My diet, on the other hand, has improved exponentially. This has little to do with my willpower, of course. I had forgotten what a painfully healthy, snack-less life my father leads. Now my afternoon refrigerator raids produce fruits, and I have even taken to eating salad twice a day. On top of that, I am actually working out to stave off boredom. Wonders never cease. I only wish my acne noticed my virtuous lifestyle shift and bade me farewell.
Of course, unlike the government, my body hasn’t forgotten about the existence of menstruation, and more importantly, about PMS. As if getting through the day was not difficult enough already. Now I’m crying enough to water the entire garden. And when I am not, it is because I’m mentally writing hate mails to all my friends. I miss you all terribly, but I have prepared detailed lists that jot down every last trait that make you really hateful people to spend time with. But don’t worry, I won’t be sending them to you; I do intend to have friends to visit after the self isolation period is up. Also, quite frankly, I’m not keen on seeing any return lists of the same variety about myself.
Phone calls and video chats are the saviours, the unsung, oft-ignored heroes of the hour. Or at least they were in the first few days. Now I am running out of things to talk about, particularly non corona-related things. Even there, if you can be dramatic and join me in railing about the absurdity of the pandemic and the lockdown, that’s fine. Maybe join me in a co-grumbling-and-moaning session about humanity being ridiculous, and about my not getting a steady supply of ice cream and external validation. That is something that my tempestuous mood swings can handle. If, on the other hand, you want to take a staid, stoic, realistic/pessimistic stance on how long it may be before things get back to normal, and how it is in everyone’s best interest to accept the uncertainty without throwing a tantrum, I do not want such negativity in my life right now, thank you very much. It will be at least another week before I achieve that level of Zen, so don’t hurry me.
For now, I’ll just have to decide whether I want to go to the Himalayas or Las Vegas once the lockdown lifts. Maslow’s hierarchy, here I come!