Cleaning, Cooking, Family and Feelings

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Never in my life did I think that there would come a time like this in my life, where families would be locked down and restrained to their houses as a result of a life-threatening disease such as the novel coronavirus. It feels like something straight out of the movies, or more appropriately, the 1300s, something like the Black Death, where everyone must fear for their lives for the Plague that hath taken over the world.

The last two months of my life have taught me more about myself than the last few years have. When you have this much time to yourself, it turns int time to sit and introspect your own mind, to sit and think about the ramblings in your head, it helps you understand who you are much better. They say that you are the truest to yourself when you are alone, and this lockdown has only corroborated this for me.

Between failed experiments in colouring my hair and the haircut that my dad gave me, I’ve been going back to the roots of the person that I believe I am – a writer, a photographer, a sister, a daughter, someone who loves herself and the people around her. It takes a certain courage to acknowledge about yourself that you haven’t been doing so well, and to pull yourself out of the place which has only brought you down. Being alone so often, this lockdown has helped me realise where I was, and it has helped me bring myself out of there. I have cut ties with several people because of these realisations. I’ve been working on my mental health because I deserve to be doing well in my life.

At home, I’ve been helpful, but not often – laziness does set in sometimes. Maybe it’s an opinion very personal to me to love mopping and sweeping the house, washing the dishes, cleaning in general. I like cleaning because of a few reasons. I like to watch as I run the mop over the dirty floor and see it become cleaner by the foot, watch the dirt removed from the floor with a jhadu as I sweep it aside. But mostly, I like cleaning because it makes my mom happy – when she sees one of my brothers or me making the effort to clean up, she always smiles. My dad smiles a smile of relief when someone takes over washing the dishes for him, and so I like spending my time doing those things.

I spend most of my nights staying up till the strange hours of the AM. After all, that’s the time of the day that nobody bothers me or nags me to do anything – the night time, because everyone else is asleep then. However, the problem with staying up in the AM is that I don’t end up waking up before the PM, which isn’t as upsetting for me as it is for my parents. Often, my brother comes to wake me up, saying, “Drishti, lunch is on the table, wake up and come to eat.” What my family hears just when lunch is finished is the question that we all anticipate my mom asking every time: “So, who’s cooking dinner?” And thus began my entry into the world of pots and pans and chicken and vegetables: into the kitchen.

In the last two months, I’ve either cooked dinner myself, or helped my mum or dad or brothers out while making dinner so many times. At this point, I’ve lost count of what all I’ve helped cook, but what I do remember from that list is chicken momos, burgers, and pizzas, vegetarian manchurian, but also chicken meatballs. You should know that while I also helped my mum make the conventional flour dough pizzas, she picked up the idea of baking pizzas with a cauliflower crust. That was definitely the most exciting thing that I’ve helped her cook. At this point in the lockdown, I can safely say that I’m now an expert at chopping onions, slicing mangoes, peeling garlic, making milkshakes, baking cookies, should I continue? The list is quite long, of all the cooking skills that I have acquired in the last two months, but still not nearly close enough to what is conventionally expected of a girl. That’s just too bad for society, I suppose. But in the midst of it all, my proudest learning being in the kitchen is that I now know how to make myself a decent cup of coffee, and a decent cup of chai for my mum, and man, that was a long time coming. The photo above is from right after I finished preparing her tea the other day.

There is much to say about how I’ve been coping with being cooped up with my family, twenty-four-seven. While I love my family to the extent that other regular families love each other, the only way I can adequately describe how this close proximity to them feels like is by saying that I feel stuck. I suppose that most people are facing similar situations, where sisters and brothers and mothers and fathers are quite often at odds with each other. It can get so very frustrating sometimes, but considering the fact that you are to stay indoors with the same set of people for only god knows how long to come in the future, it is better to live and let live. That being said, the fights at home have been uncontrollably irritating – little squabbles over who is and who isn’t doing the chores, loud arguments over the WiFi bandwidth, among other silly things… but what can you do, right? 

In the last two-ish months of lockdown, I’ve felt a tumultuous set of emotions and learnt a variety of things I never thought I’d have the time for. I’ve felt happy to be home, I’ve been grateful to have a roof over my head and (very fancy) food on my plate, excited to be able to sit and loll around all day; but I’ve also felt sad and suffocated, angry and restless. All in all, my quarantine experience has been a rollercoaster ride, which is especially ironic since all I’ve been doing is sitting or lying down. Maybe that’s how all our lives are supposed to be in this dreadful coronavirus-filled world, the only roller coaster we go through is the one where we get up and lie back down every few hours. It’s always a pleasure to have a dog to lie around and cuddle with, and I’m grateful that I have my little canine sister. I’m annoyed, but I’m grateful, and that is my summary of the coronavirus lockdown of the disappointment year of 2020.

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