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Lockdown and family – We are in it together, we shall overcome

16 May, 2020 04:53:18
Lockdown and family – We are in it together, we shall overcome

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts – or so goes the saying but what if you are dished out a container full of fudge strewn with nuts? Obviously, you will settle down for what’s on offer. After all, the ancient adage comes to the fore, ‘You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you…” Some solace there! 

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed May 15 as International Day of Families, a day that provides an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and to increase knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families. This year with the advent of corona virus epidemic, countries around the world have imposed restrictions on people’s movements. Nationwide lockdown in many countries including India has led to people working from home and thus, spending more time with their families and partners. And what has this resulted in?

Take my family for instance. We, I and my husband, are working parents with two children. We live with our parents-in-law under the same roof. My sister-in-law who came to spend her annual holiday with her two children in the middle of March this year, got stranded and she is still waiting for transport to resume so that she can go back to her home in Delhi. Well, we are all together in this, including our two furry babies. 

On normal days, our home would be a flurry of activities, everything moving with clockwork precision, in a beautifully synchronized move. My husband and children would be up by 6.30am, dashing for the washroom and then the dining table for a quick breakfast. Children’s chatter would be often interspersed with shrill calls for help as Pepsi the goofy Labrador would  saunter into the dining room with one sock clutched in his mouth or Bruno, the  other one, taking his rattle around, nudging all and sundry to play with him. Ma-in-law would go livid as she would maneuver her way through carelessly thrown toys, books et all to reach her puja room. Father-in-law would be ready with his shoppers’ bags, trying to draw our attention to the utmost important task he was on the verge of undertaking  – pay his daily visit to the  vegetable or fish  market. He would get very upset if we, I and ma-in-law ever insisted we did not require anything for the day and we had everything stocked at home.  It would take a lot of effort to calm him down and explain that there is no conspiracy at work to stall his routine, as he often believed it to be. The cook was in perpetual hurry, interrupting conversations with, “What’s the day’s menu?” “How many chapattis to be made?” “Every other day she  had to go early for some appointment and would put her foot down if she was asked to make something out of the ordinary like the cumbersome mocha (banana flower) or Paat shaak (jute leaf curry).  

Beggars can’t be choosers and we lesser mortals invariably settled for that which she wished to cook. By now, father-in-law would be ready with another excuse to go out – he insisted to stand in the queue and pay the electricity bills or the telephone bill or some such pending job. His son often thwarted these plans saying he had arranged to pay these bills online. Not one to be out-smarted, by father-in-law would belt out a long list of things slowly and menacingly undone leading to friendly banters and ultimately leading to fire-crackers. That’s how things used to be. Not so anymore.   

With the lockdown in place, opportunities for families to stick together has arrived, though the ‘stickiness’ is often a cause of friction. People are trying to work during a crisis and that is taking its toll on most of us mentally. In such a stressful environment, it’s not easy to be around family members or flatmates 24×7 specially if you have a small space and your children having classes on zoom demanding a room to themselves or your husband working online for more than 10 hours needing a separate work-from-office space suddenly. Not everyone has the luxury of big houses. A recent report undertaken to study the effects of lockdown on families shows disturbing results. It has revealed there is a rise in cases of domestic abuse and violence in India and more people in China are filing for divorce. 

It is true that working professionals often lack enough time to spend with their families. The current lockdown situation coupled with the provision to work from home, has certainly bridged the gap. But the constant proximity can also infringe on personal space specially when you have elders living with you who have been severely restricted home for their age that is detrimental if they contract the COVID 19 virus. Yet, there is always a silver lining to even a dark rain cloud. Watching movies together, the squabble for the remote control , the amateur cook trying his/her hands in the kitchen, reading a favourite book together, playing indoor games that we long forgot, game boards hidden in the attic or under the bed, dusted and brought out. Some beautiful moments that probably many families will cherish even after the Lockdown is over. Life will never be the same again post Corona. And families will also never be the same again. As we learn to live with a deadly virus haunting communities across the world, we shall also learn to live together better, may be under compulsion, if not always by choice. 

Story Tag:
  • Corona Virus, World Family Day

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