I stay away from my parents with three other girls. Unlike the rest of India, I chose not to go home when the pandemic struck. Maybe it’s because I’ve stayed away too long, or maybe because my parents stay in a 2-BHK, we keep stepping over each other when we are all home. There are heated debates over otherwise benign topics, like the nutritional value of bread, even on average days.
Although I love having those debates and being with my parents, I chose to give it a skip this time. Nevertheless, I have those debates here with others. You really can’t change who you’ve been all your life. I do have other reasons to stay back that are too personal for everyone to know.
Here, we are like four islands, each with their own distinct weather. None of us can guess when the next storm is coming over the neighbouring one. You could be enjoying a bright sunny morning, happily sipping on your favourite drink as soothing music is playing in the background, while one of them could be reeling under the deadliest thunderstorm, right in front of your eyes.
You couldn’t help but pity them, even if you’ve had your very own the night before. Eventually, we all come back to our own. Each of us has our personal, specific coping mechanism, like crying, shouting or just going silent for days.
The lockdown was sudden for us. The islands lost electricity for a long time (were stripped down to bare existence). In that dearth of excitement, we somehow managed to keep up our spirits, atleast until the next task (Thali/taali, ‘semi-Diwali’). But, like all good things, this too ended. The islands had flickering light here and there.
There were massive storms on some days. One day we disagreed on music and all diplomatic ties were cut off. Like an Orwellian dystopia, histories were rewritten, to demonise the neighbours. But, owing to spatial constraints, not-talking was ultimately ruled out as warfare. So, unlike Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, we all had to be allies all at once. Histories were rewritten yet again to mend ties. Hard facts of broken friendships were conveniently forgotten, and the islands reaffirmed their warm relations with each other.
After many short skirmishes, I believe we have discovered a fine balance to just sail through. As individual islands, we’ve had calmer weather in the last few days, than any we’ve had since the lockdown. That, of course, discounting the brief melancholic (dramatic) moments, one of them has, every time she realises that she could have gone home before all of this started. I guess, not every tiny outburst is bad. It is, in fact, slightly entertaining, at the risk of sounding sadistic.
Every little fight that we’ve had, has broken the facade of perfection we all generally put on. Through the cracks, we are finally seeing each other. Like you identify your pencil with the little nick it has at the end, I will identify my girls by their imperfections, which I would have overlooked, if not for the lockdown.