Living Through History

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It was ten o clock on a Thursday night; I was laying in bed and talking to a couple of friends of mine on a WhatsApp group chat. We were all talking about how fast the time is passing by, reflecting on the fact that April felt like it had just begun yesterday, and suddenly May was just around the corner. And that was when another friend of mine chimed in with something that made me have an epiphany, “What we don’t realize about this time that we’re going through right now is the fact that we’re all living through a history lesson,” she said. The trickiest part about going through a significant moment in your life is not realizing that it is a moment of significance until after the fact. 

I still remember when I first started hearing about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (or “COVID-19” for short), about all the people in Wuhan who were getting infected and suffering. But I never saw it as something that would affect me personally. In fact, I was pretty sure it would blow over by the end of January or February, never to be seen or heard from again. I was having lunch one day in college, and a friend of mine sat next to me and told me that Kerala reported having a couple of cases. Sure the thought of that was scary, but I still didn’t give it much thought. Health authorities would be swiftly come in, quarantine the people who were infected, and that would be the end of things. But the cases just kept rising, news started coming out that the virus was spreading to places outside of China, countries began closing their borders, but for many, it was too late.

Fast forward to the 13th of March, I was walking out of Cubbon Park after celebrating a friend’s birthday there and saw a line of police cars speeding by; the Chief Minister of Karnataka had called for an emergency to discuss the spread of the virus and what measures to take against it. The news came out not long after that everything would be closed for a period of seven days in the state. My mother called me from Indonesia, where she and my father currently reside, urging me to leave and go to my sister’s in Hyderabad after she heard the news, but I didn’t find much of a reason to leave given that everything would reopen only after a week. But given that all of my friends were on their way to go back home, I thought I’d go as well. Not long after, Prime Minister Modi came on Doordarshan and announced to everyone that India was going into lockdown, meaning that everything would be closed everywhere. It was at that moment that I thanked my mother for forcing me to leave and come to my sister’s place.

Ever since lockdown started, life for me, and everyone I know has been quite mundane, what more can one expect anyway, with everyone stuck at home. I spend my days studying, spending a lot of time on my computer and my phone, watching movies and TV shows on Netflix, watching YouTube videos, reading books, and other such things. I’ve also gotten back to working out and going for walks around the apartment complex. The one interesting aspect I’ve found about lockdown is the fact that it forces you to find creative ways to spend your time. As someone who likes photography, I took lockdown as a challenge to find unique ways to photograph household items and objects, and trying to make boring and otherwise dull things look more interesting. I’ve also tried my hand at baking, something that I’ve never done before. With the help of my sister and the internet, I was able to bake some delicious banana bread and brownies. And lastly, sleeping, lots and lots of sleeping. 

My sister and her other friends/roommates are all working from home during this time, their office actually sent over their work computers, and now they all sit next to each other, staring at their screens all day, a scene reminiscent of the cyber cafes that used to be popular in India in the mid to late 2000s when everyone didn’t have a computer at home and a smartphone in hand. 

In short, life keeps moving, but now we just have to find creative ways to solve the problems that have and face. My college, along with many other educational institutions around the world, have started taking classes online through Zoom or Google Meet. This place is also heavily used nowadays to keep in touch with friends and family. Online gaming has also become a lot popular, which one can see from the amount of PUBG and other online games I have been playing recently with my friends, and that too, is coming from me, a person who isn’t into gaming all that much. But as stated before, life keeps going, and people are natural problem solvers. One very creative thing that I saw take place during quarantine is my girlfriend’s cousin hosting her son’s baby shower on a Zoom call with friends and family, all connecting from different parts of India and the world. 

This is an interesting and unprecedented time that we’re going through, and nobody has an answer as to when it’s going to be over. As impatient and annoyed as we may get every now and then, it’s important to remember to stay home and stay calm, because at the end of the day, what we’re doing right now is for our own good. And something that I personally like to remind myself from time to time is that, as each day passes by, we are one day closer to everything going back to normal. For now, keep on being creative, keep on doing what you like, and above all, please stay safe, and stay home. 

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