COVID-19 Diaries: Ambivalent

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Photo by Tina Nord on

Today caps two full weeks of the entire family staying home. We are settling into a pattern of sorts. If last week felt overwhelming because I was trying to be a conscientious employee and a full-time homemaker, this week was better because I decided perfection is impossible. I let things slide.

I told myself it was okay to let the academics go. I am not a teacher. I can only spare a certain amount of individual attention with each child. That time comes with a cost.

We decided we would no longer get food from outside. That meant, meals had to be planned, prepped and cooked three times a day without a break. It meant the dishes had to be washed, counters wiped down and groceries stocked. Because cooking took up time, I had to let other things slide, the mess that used to be our breakfast table, the mess that the play area upstairs is, the sleeping bags everywhere, the unfolded throws each time I passed the sofa. All of the little things that irk me, I pass, I take a deep breath and keep moving on.

I log in early to work. I take a break to make meals and serve them. I get the grinder going while I work. Multitasking is something I naturally do but these days, it has taken on a new meaning. The edges between work and home blur. I take calls over the weekend. I work early hours and late hours. I do what I can to make sure I am not slipping. The constant keeping track takes a toll.

I go to bed early. I am up early. I feel like an automaton. I have a book from the library that has been sitting untouched for two weeks. I try to browse news, catch up on social media feeds, respond to messages after the day’s chores are done. I find my attention wandering. I close up and go to bed.

I did manage to watch the movie Contagion. Obviously, not the best movie to watch while we are in the middle of one. I was struck by how eerily the movie mirrors real life. The day after I watched the movie, I heard local desi grocers were either modifying hours or closing for a few weeks. I see it in slow motion. Empty schools. Empty malls. Small businesses shuttering. Layoffs. Supply shortages. Mental health takes a hit.

I also see other things. Things I take for granted. The grocery store employees. The pharmacists. The delivery people. The mailperson. The medical professionals, nurses, technicians, admin folk who show up every day even when they are on the frontlines. These people have families like mine. They have children and spouses and parents and siblings who may be exposed because of their line of work. I imagine their guilt, their worry. I promise myself that I will be cognizant of all the people in my life I take for granted.

I see Saathi working around my calls, cutting vegetables so we are not eating carb-heavy meals, running out every few days to get groceries and my medicines just so I am not exposing myself unnecessarily to the virus. I see my children play with each other with nary a whine about how they are missing school or their friends. They don’t complain about the variety show that they rehearsed for that is indefinitely postponed or the fact that they may not have fifth-grade graduation this year. They roll with the punches, taking each day for what it is. Unlike me, they don’t linger in the past or look ahead to the future.

I know not what our lives will look like in the next few weeks and for probably the first time in my life, I don’t want to know. I am content with the present. I will be blessed if this status quo sustains itself over whatever period it takes for the virus to blow over, vaccines to be discovered, people to acquire herd immunity or for the summer sun to miraculously kill this thing.

Hope all of you are doing okay. Reach out if you want to talk. Really.





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