As I stepped out for putting the clothes on the clothesline, I passed a casual look at the deserted Sohna Road. In a fraction of a second, something caught my attention from my multi-storeyed condominium – stream of small and insignificant beings walking. Marching in unison, with nothing or a bundle of essentials sitting atop their head. Small petite bodies, they looked like a colony of ants, marching for the home-run. And along with them are smaller bobbing bodies. The string seemed to be endless. I wondered in this lockdown, what on earth were they doing out on the road; when even birds are horror- stuck at the dead silence of the urban spaces they fluttered in.
Just then, a Whatapp message, explained the ‘long march’; as I would like to call it. They were the migrant, daily wage workers who in these parlous times had been abandoned by their helpless employers. And those smaller bobbing bodies are their famished children, flapping their hawai slippers against the volcano erupted roads of Gurgaon. Uncertainty, ambiguous, and up-for grabs, they have nowhere to look for hope; other than their homes and hearth, back in their hamlets. Sooner than I thought, it was already being flashed across various news channels; pictures of crowded bus terminals, sobbing families and much more. Braving the pandemic, humanity rose above all and many Samaritans pitched kiosks of food and water for the people parading back home.
So, fearless and ferocious, they brave the lockdown and flag off the long walk to be with their loved ones. What can console them more than the calm faces of their parents, harmless chortle of their children and the confident assurance of their life partners? I heard from my help, that her friend walked for 3 days to reach to his village. Although he is quarantined, but the respite is that he is home.
It is time to thank our stars, that we are all home safe and secure. That we didn’t have to travel so many miles; just to have the comfort and safety of home. It may not be easy, being anchored at home, especially when most of us urban people are always up and about. In our own houses, we have no ‘me corner’. In our own spaces, we can’t take peaceful ‘work calls’. In our own reigns we don’t know where did the maid keep the ‘essential stuff’. In our own family rooms, we do not know ‘how and what to talk with our families’. In our own nest we have ‘more gadgets than the chicks in the family’. In our private precincts, our eye sockets may have popped out due to excessive screen time. But yet we are TOGETHER.
This brings me to the smallest unit; our homes and our families. Trying times are the bonding times. We feel comforted, reassured, and relieved when in times of distress we see our loved ones safe and secure – in Corona times both physical and virtual assurances comfort us.
Un till then roads are calm. Malls are sleeping. Markets are silent. Clubs are still. Schools are lull. But. The homes and hearths are buzzing with laughter, chatter and occasional silence. The balconies are the new DJ console and dance floor. Sometimes they even double up as bars. And all the dust laden board games can breathe some fresh air. Husbands are cooking in the kitchen. Wives are mopping the floor. Children are making the bed (for everyone). There is a satisfying calm in the house but there is stifled noise in this silence.
My daughter says we are caged like Rapunzel. Corona is the evil witch. My son says it is like we are living a Hollywood Sci-fi. Corona is the Green Goblin. Both the analogies are providing virtual entertainment to me. Lest, not to forget the mythological angle by the PM. Lockdown is as sacrosanct as the lakshaman rekha, in the Ramayana.
In the meantime, animals are having a Raahgirir moment. Civet cat was spotted on the now silent roads of Mumbai; leopard like animal spotted in now lull Chandigarh. As far Gurgaon, for me and my man, we are already at the climax of this virtual entertainment – unsure; uncertain; ambivalent; precarious. Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.
2 weeks to the finale. Until then be safe and stay within the lakshaman rekha.