Being locked up at home during the long COVID-19 lockdown, I got to reminiscing about my childhood. For instance, as kids, we used to look forward to the monsoon rains. Splashing, making boats and wading through the water excited us and made us feel happy. We had to go to school in knee-deep water wearing raincoats. But this never interrupted our routine.
Now, when a virus has engulfed the world, we are told to lock ourselves up in isolation. I pity the kids. They are the ones bouncing with energy. How this is going to impact them, I wonder.
In my childhood, we had a champa and guava tree in our compound and we would be on the lookout for fruits. We would hoodwink our apartment owner, and in the middle of the afternoon when elders used to rest, we would invade the tree and pluck even raw guava. Eating it along with our friends was pure joy.
Our building was next to a colony of filmy people living in huge bungalows with gardens. We would sneak into their compound to pluck flowers for pooja and taste the nectar of a white flower growing on a shrub on the fence. Squeezing that nectar into our lips was such a thrill that even the best fruit juices cannot be compared to it.
Then we would shake the Parijata tree. The flowers would pour like rain, dotting the ground like stars. Oh! What fragrance. Even today the thought of it makes me dizzy.
Today’s kids are missing that thrill. Now we have a variety of flowers in our apartment but nobody dares to touch it.
Can our 21st-century kids know what it is like to roam freely with friends? They have hundreds of taboos even in normal times. Now they are confined to their homes, living in virtual reality. All they have and know is the electronic screen; no activity, no exercise and no friends.
We had so many games, like hop, skip and jump called ‘Tipari’, dodgeball, skipping, hide and seek, langdi and the hula-hoop. The games used to make us so hungry that we would hog anything. Now with no Swiggy, Zomato or pizza, the kids grumble all the time.
We had lots of indoor games which rescued us in the rainy season – carrom, snakes and ladder, ludo, card games, antakshari, Monopoly. We would have competitions in both indoor and outdoor games. We didn’t even have a radio in the house. Phones were a taboo for kids. We listened to radio Ceylon, Vividh Bharati, learnt film songs and entertained each other by singing these songs. We devised our own entertainment. Going for long walks and enjoying nature was another fun activity.
In our childhood, the household with parents, kids and relatives would be buzzing with activity all the time. A variety of dishes would pour out of the kitchen. People rarely went to restaurants. We never had ice cream parlours. We would churn ice cream at home, and the whole family used to sit around and wait for the ice cream to be ready. Every night a fellow with a Kulfi basket on his head would come. As we used to pester our father, sometimes he would give in. The fellow used to serve the kulfi on an almond leaf. Ah! The taste was heavenly.
There was no dearth of variety in dishes, as all year round, marriages and festivals used to take place and we used to hog rare dishes. Today, the lockdown has made people try new dishes. It has made people self-reliant, and even men are discovering their cooking skills and understanding the hardship of household work, in the absence of domestic workers.
In this pandemic time, in many households, family members have helped the lady of the house by sharing work. But in several other cases, with no work, uncertainty in life, less income and being cooped up at home, men have become aggressive and abusive towards women.
Globally, the buying spree we were all in is over, as our needs have come down due to home confinement. In the olden days, people bought things only during festivals and functions. This lockdown and virus has made us thrifty.
The pandemic will change our life so much that we would hesitate to go to the theatre, mall, etc where there is a crowd. Online entertainment will increase. Online transactions will give impetus to use of credit/debit cards. We will travel less.
Man was becoming a selfish creature; now he has learnt his lesson. There is more neighbourliness. Old friends and relatives are once again in touch. Our kids, who used to be busy, are more relaxed and call parents more often. But of course, social distancing will increase psychological issues as man has to learn to live confined to home. Social awareness has increased. People today are doing a lot of charity to help those in need.
What has affected me the most is having to cancel my annual visit to the US and Canada to be with children and grandchildren. I have so many pleasant memories of our visits. I miss that hugely.
At the same time, COVID-19 has taught us the value of being with ourselves and to not be in a rat race all the time. We know the importance of silence and to look within for peace.
The silence has made us aware of our habitat. We can hear the birds chirping. People are spotting peacock, deer, monkeys, snakes and rare birds like the Kingfisher. We as kids had seen all these. Once again, nature is opening up after the damage caused by humans to the environment. It has bounced back with vigour during the lockdown. To live and breathe clean air is a treat.
[Disclaimer: This article is a citizen contribution. The views expressed here are those of the individual writer(s) and do not reflect the position of Citizen Matters.]