Nikita Prabhu (*)
Civil engineer, Hyderabad (INDIA)
It has been six years since I’ve lived away from my family. I was accustomed to staying away from my parents and my brother for months altogether. But this time, it felt different. It felt as though I was in the climax scene of an apocalyptic movie and I wanted nothing more than to spend my ‘last few days’ in the comfort of home.
Not a blessing in disguise
To say that the pandemic affected me would be a tone-deaf statement to make considering I had a roof over my head, food in my belly and a steady income – most of which many people in my country did not have access to. On the other hand, to take on an idealistic persona and say that the pandemic was a ‘blessing in disguise’ would be unfair considering the fatalities caused.
Hold on, things will change
So where did my feelings lie on this spectrum? My thoughts took me back to February earlier this year when my mother kept coaxing me to come to visit her and my father in Oman. I’ve always lived the majority of my life putting things off with the pretext that ‘there will be time’. I’d like to believe COVID-19 shattered that.
As the travel restrictions set in, all hopes of seeing my parents vanished. For the first time in my life, I had no idea when I would be able to visit them. Its during difficult times that you turn to your parents hoping that the years of experience that they keep bragging about would instil a sense of optimism in you. But that’s when you’re a kid.
In your 20’s you can sense their fear hidden under the shroud of calm. You can sense it in every routine phone call. What can years of experience do when the whole world hasn’t experienced anything like this? All you can do is hold on to each other hoping your mutual feelings of worry cancel each other out.
Oh, to just laugh away with friends!
I’ve always been a homebody all my life and when the lockdown was announced in India, I thought it wouldn’t be that big a deal. But in those two and a half months I was confined to the walls of my apartment, I looked forward to every phone call, every text message, and every video call from my friends and family.
In spite of the wonders that my internet connection could offer me, nothing would make me smile more than to laugh away with my friends knowing that we were all sharing the same fears and apprehensions and convincing each other that we will make it through.
Tinge of nostalgia
It was all the little things that I previously took for granted that started coming back to me with a tinge of nostalgia. It made me realise how unimportant most social constructs were in comparison to just being with the people you love.
A wake-up call?
Maybe this pandemic was a wake-up call. We had woken up to the fact that ‘health is wealth’ is more than just a quote. We had woken up to the fact that ‘home’ was either a mansion for some or an endless journey on foot for others.
We had woken up to the fact that our lives would be brought to a standstill if it wasn’t for the people whose well-being we rarely cared about. I could never say that this pandemic was a ‘blessing in disguise’. But in some sort of a biblical manner, it was a threshold point the world had to reach in order to spot the anomalies of our ‘good old days’.
(*) Former Indian School Sohar student (2014)