”SENDING you LOVE and FLOWERS if you are STUCK AT HOME. We’re ALL in this TOGETHER” — this rather innocuous message from a well-meaning friend last evening set me thinking.
Stuck? At HOME?
Isn’t that an oxymoron?
You can be stuck in a meeting, in a traffic jam, or an elevator.
But home? Home is your go-to.
If you feel stuck at your go-to, where do you go to?
Outside is supposed to be the place that keeps you away from where you always wish to be.
And home is supposed to be the place you always want to come back to.
Oh, wait. What did I just say?
Come Back To — So that’s the catch!
It seems that being home is fun only when you come back to it — after a hard day’s work, a vacation, or school, college, shopping, etc.
Have you noticed that quotes about a home mostly romanticize ‘coming back home?’
‘The best journey takes you home
‘Life takes you unexpected places, love brings you home’
‘I traveled the whole world in search of what I wanted — and came back home to find it.’
Even the tagline of the erstwhile Siyaram ad says ‘coming home to Siyaram’
It’s pretty ironic that after the reams of romance we wrote over lack of time to be home, our sham was exposed by the Covid-19 suddenly granting our wish and proving that we’re actually quite desperate to run out of our homes at the first given opportunity.
Our planet’s air, soil, water, flora, and fauna is currently hijacked by Corona, Corona, Corona.
The world is frozen in bewildered incomprehension — clamped and stalled mid-stride.
Cursing one kind of Corona, while glugging another, we are all in a trance chanting please God aisa Coro Na!
The blessed disease – and more the fear of it – has brought an entire planet on its knees.
Corporate bullet trains have screeched to an unexpected halt.
Professional propriety is whimpering in its pajamas
Social stipulations are nursing their stubbed toes.
Sensex figures and family hours have switched places — the latter climbing from ‘zerority’ to priority and currently enjoying the center stage.
The economy is on a ventilator (that’s one ventilator less for Covid-19 patients).
The stranglehold of protocols over our behavior and time stands demolished.
In fact, the monopoly of time itself stands demolished. It seems to have lost its meaning, relevance and significance.
The rush hour has limped out of our lives.
Two months ago, time wasn’t just money, it was God; and corporate bottom lines, God’s own country.
Humans were running, running, running (while humanity was on the run.)
Check email. Run. Check phone. Run. Check time. Run.
Corporate honchos running off for hectic holidays amid hectic work schedules.
Urban families running off to unhealthy health farms amid unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Running, running, running.
Squeezing out tiny pockets of unconnected, unwired time as they went — walks, airplane trips, camp-outs, reading a novel on a beach.
Now suddenly, there is nowhere to run.
We own reams of spare time we had only fantasized about — imagining ourselves sauntering through the woods and fields… cooking at home… counting the stars in the sunroom, or the tiles in the washroom.
No routines being followed anymore.
No alarms being set anymore.
We are now alarmed differently.
CAB & Kashmir, economy & ecology as issues seem so dated.
Shaheen Bagh became Shaheen ‘bhaag’ and nobody noticed.
Nirbhaya’s killers were hanged at a time when the bhaybheet janta itself had a corona-sized noose around its neck.
The current cause celebre is a virus that’s merrily gone berserk sprinkling disease as if it were confetti (it’s another matter that life itself is a sexually transmitted disease.)
Until last month, life was rushing by too hastily, too hysterically.We were all scampering to make our voices heard in an infinite digital vacuum.
Under the triumvirate of curiosity, technology, and growth, our addiction to the wired universe and that exhilarating high of defeating geography in two clicks, was absolute.
The naysayers were alarmed as always.
They harped on more people-to-people contact, social integration, and loads of blah.
Now suddenly, social integration is a health hazard, and social distancing the new buzzword.
The technology that we so vociferously disparaged has become our savior.
Professionally, we are suspended in no man’s land.
The already blurred line between working from home is a little blurrier, and a tad scarier.
The truth is that imprisoned in our own homes, hostage to an invisible virus, we are scared of being left to our own devices – and more than ever at the mercy of our digital devices.
It’s the sudden insecurity that comes when the onus of utilizing our time constructively rests squarely on our shoulders.
We are suspended between familiar concepts and unfamiliar options.
On one hand, we are starting to itch in uncomprehending impatience feeling the walls of our home closing in on us.
On the other hand, we’re all becoming more aware of our surroundings and of our inner selves.
Free of social and behavioral protocols, we have got this unexpected chance to travel inwards and connect with a hitherto unknown, exotic, mindful Self.
New experiences lead to new discoveries, including self-discovery.
In pottering around meaninglessly and eating more slowly, we’re thinking more deeply and contemplating more creatively… devising original ways to entertain ourselves and to educate our children.
Eventually, the darkness will lift, and what we will carry with us is a new kind of knowledge about ourselves and the world we live in.