The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
I belong to that section of society, whose problems are sometimes not understood. When we express our complaints, we are often told that “you should consider yourself lucky that you have everything, touchwood, you do not know, what financial problem means”. I still do not understand how this society works. Why is a woman’s mental condition always related to her husband? Can’t she be unhappy just because things did not go how she wished?
The sudden pandemic was a shock to most of us. We were not prepared for it. The first month, like many other of the women, I was busy ensuring that I had sufficiently stocked essentials in my house. There were times when I was tempted to hoard groceries and I know that I shouldn’t have done that. But then, I think the human mind is always dominated by fear.
I was glad to have had my son at home. My husband was working from home since mid-March. Initially, we were all happy with the new arrangement, because we looked forward to spending more time with each other. But slowly, as time progressed, and reality set in, things started changing. Happiness was soon turning into frustration.
My elder son, who is 6 now, had delayed speech development because he did not interact much with other kids of his age. I did not want the same for my daughter. Before the lockdown, I used to take them out regularly to play below my building. But as soon as the lockdown was announced, it became a bit difficult to explain to them why they could not go down. Every evening, we would sit down by our window and watch the sunset praying that hopefully, the next day, things would be back to normal.
It was very difficult to keep two kids engaged throughout the day. They also had their own sets of tantrums and meltdowns, but there were times when I also had a meltdown along with them.
If the children made even a little bit more noise than usual, the people from the flat below ours would call through the intercom asking, “What is the need for children to play at home?”.
My parents were alone at my house in the suburbs of Mumbai. They are senior citizens yet they had to do most of their chores alone. When all news channels were going haywire on how people should stay at home and several rumours were making the rounds on social media, I was lost in my own world battling my own set of problems.
My father suddenly fell ill. He is a Diabetic patient and his sugar levels kept on fluctuating because of the stress of my brother’s postponed wedding. My parents stay just a couple of hours from my place, yet it took me days of convincing and fights with my husband to finally go and meet them for a few days. But this was not my story alone. There were many other women who just wanted to see their parents for some hours, but unfortunately, the lockdown rules and the societal rules did not allow them.
For married women, meeting their own parents was not a case of emergency or essential service or essential requirement. When news channels showed stories of how migrant workers went back to their villages on foot and in trains, the section of privileged wives could not complain about being unable to meet their families.
Lockdown was not smooth sailing for me. But yes, it did teach me a lot of things. Even pre-lockdown, I only had a maid for cleaning and, post-lockdown, even that stopped. But, the maid not being there was not really a mental burden for me.
In fact, it was better for me because we never liked the way she worked and she did start to take a lot of leaves. So in a way, it was a good opportunity to stop her services even though we did pay her for the month of March and April completely.
More than Covid-19 and the lockdown, what affected me the most was the way the television channels were reporting. Unfortunately, my family members felt that it was mandatory to watch the news early in the morning. Trust me, 30 minutes of that news would have been enough to make any normal person depressed. I may not have felt suicidal, or my story may not be that tragic because I’m a privileged wife. But yes, I did have numerous breakdowns during this pandemic every time I felt helpless.
As they say, money cannot buy you everything. There has to be freedom for the same.