When I flew from Gurgaon (Delhi) to Jaipur on March 17th, I had no idea that I would still be in Jaipur, writing down my lockdown story from my home office.
It’s been exactly 2 months today and I am ready to share the learnings of a lifetime, I have lived in these last 2 months — personally and professionally.
Learning 1- Never take anything for granted
We as humans have a tendency to get swayed by what life has to offer and, in the process, forget things which hold importance and value. And sometimes you need a jolt to remind yourself.
I was guilty of this syndrome and on April 17th God decided to remind me in a way that I will never forget. My father had to be hospitalized for reasons beyond COVID19 and the 16 days that he was in hospital, were not just tough but helped to put life in perspective.
He had two major health issues that were diagnosed and the hospital he was in, there was no doctor to treat one of them which needed an immediate surgery. At midnight we had to shift him to another hospital where he was put in isolation till the COVID Test reports came. He was critical and we were helpless.
Prayers of family, friends and blessing from GOD came to rescue. On May 2nd, he was discharged after a 2.5-week ordeal and what a fight he put on with ICU, Medicines, isolation, pain and everything else that comes with Hospital. He is now on path to recovery with unconditional support from mom and everyone else who has mattered to us.
Today nothing means more to me than my parents and daughter and my extended family. To see my father back on his feet and getting to a routine -is what’s most joyful. To see my mother look after my father the way she has, not just these last few weeks but since long has made me realize the importance and love, they hold for each other.
To have the support of family inspite of physical distance has been incredible. And the number of people who have reached out to wish well for us as a family has only filled me with a great sense of gratitude and humility.
The other important realization has been that no dependence is good. And I say this particularly in context of staff. We had 3 maids and one driver and now we have none. From mopping to cleaning to cooking to driving- we do it all and do it together. It’s not easy and there are days when I hate it but then I see my mother and I realize if she can, I must.
Learning 2- This kind of quality time will never come back
While the world is going through the toughest time and we see so much misery and despair around us. This lockdown has also given the opportunity to spend time with family which otherwise was a rarity, at least for some of us. The joy of having all meals together, to play cards every night, watch movies and the time I have got with my daughter- none of this would be, if it wasn’t for the times, we are in.
My brother who lives in Bombay with his family- I wouldn’t talk as often as I could when I was at work- today we do a video call every day and I have reconnected with him in a way, that is beautiful and profound.
I also make it a point to call people who I don’t have anything to do with directly but just to check on their well-being and stay connected. And these relationships are so valuable, I realize when hit by a crisis. The number of people who offered to help during my father’s illness, made me realize the importance of family and genuine friends in life.
Learning 3- This not the NEW NORMAL
I am absolutely against this time being referred to as New Normal. What is so new about this phase- people are dying everyday/so many are jobless/ industries are grappling to survive /poor are getting poorer, I wonder what’s New? Since I was a child, I remember the word new being referred to, in context of getting a new birthday dress or the excitement of buying a new car or moving into a new house. That is what new means and has meant.
Just because some of us have started working from home, embraced ourselves to use technology like MS Teams or Zoom to stay connected and done work like we would in office- this can’t be termed as New. And of course, it’s not normal — we are humans, we need human touch. We need to meet and interact with people, beyond screen and we are not practitioners of social distancing- we are learning all this but am certain this is not permanent. How can we even think to call this time as new normal when the migrant workers are jobless and dying of starvation, when stadiums are being converted to quarantine centres, when bodies can’t be cremated because of lack of space in mortuary- none of this sounds new or normal. So, to me this is a phase that we will all pass through and life must get back to normal.
Learning 4- Help as much as you can
The world is not equal, and the gap is stark. And therefore, the “haves” must help the “have nots.” We’ve seen so many philanthropic efforts being made by organizations and individuals. And we must not hesitate to share some of what we have with the ones who don’t. I know so many who have contributed to support the migrant workers and the frontline health workers but in our own homes we should commit to support our staff — no cutting salaries/ supporting the education of their children/ helping them with dry ration etc.The ability to help others in adversity is the biggest gift and power that has been bestowed upon us and we must make use of it to makes ourselves better people.
Learning 5- Do what you love most
Its important to create a balance while working from home. It took me a while to understand and apply. The first few weeks were tough and long. It almost felt like, I was trying to prove myself (not that I had to) and in the process forgot that I was working from home and that there were three other members of my family who wanted to spend time with me and me with them. And as I shared earlier, I learnt my lesson though I wish it wasn’t at the cost of my father’s health.Today I cook at least one meal, I sing and record my songs, I play with my daughter and we watch MasterChef together, I meditate with my father and give it my 100% at work while doing all this.
I am therefore in a happy place and love what I do, personally and professionally.
Lockdown for many has been depressing, tough and unimaginable but when I look back — it’s been a great leveler and helped me to stay positive most days. I have a great sense of gratitude for what I have and I pray that this phase gets over sooner and the world becomes a happy, peaceful place for all.