I don’t know which phase of the ‘lockdown’ or the ‘release from lockdown,’ phase we are in. I’ve lost track. It’s now…let me count…from 22nd March till date…around four months since this never-ending nightmare began. For all those who’ve counted, it’s 116 days as I write this and since I started doing the cleaning, mopping, dusting, laundry, dish-washing in addition to the cooking! My family helps as and when. They’re thoughtful and kind but like most ‘helpful family members’ they need to be reminded that whatever they do to help needs to be done every single day because that’s just the way it is. And if they don’t do it, I must. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
A fortnight into the nightmare I actually told myself there were ample reasons to be happy – for one, I was capable of handling it all – I was not dependent on the maid! It was liberating. No more watching the clock strike ten and wondering if the maid was going to come or not. No more waiting and no more fretting about the fate of things while she cleaned up the house and no more repeating instructions to deaf ears. But during the last four months, when a casserole slipped out of the fridge and crashed and a glass bottle assumed a life of its’ own and fell and shattered and a third waiting to happen – hat-trick remember; I realized that we were probably no better than her when it came to ‘Loss due to breakage.’ Who cares for independently handling it all anyway as long as the work’s done if the loss is the same? The intangible loss in fact was greater with me handling it. Let me explain.
Doing the work myself meant I was still fit. As I felt the rivulet of sweat trickle down my back until a few weeks ago (summer has been punishing here), I told myself I was burning fat which is a good thing. I dreamed of a new, fitter me at the end of the lockdown and the thought of the future Me brought a smile to my lips. Then yesterday happened – the weighing machine was lying around in my older daughter’s room (I’m not the kind who checks every month or even every six months), so I got onto it. To my shock, it crossed the number that I’d been used to seeing for the last six -seven years and went past it by not one but two whole kgs! Before I could fool myself that the machine was out of order, my daughter kindly broke it to me that as per the machine she had lost 3kgs! Well I had a Eureka moment – ‘real’ exercise worked better for my body than six hours of slogging it out doing domestic work!
In addition to the house work, I have been reading, painting and spending time with the family. I kind of manage to complete all the work by 1.00 p.m., have lunch, watch TV for a while, read, talk, do art or whatever together as a family. This made me proud – you know of being ‘Effective’ and ‘Efficient.’ However I did not realize the price I was paying for the effectiveness until last evening my younger daughter said, ‘Mamma, why do your hands look squarish and unkempt?” It made me take a good look at myself for the first time in 100 days. I had transformed as per Charles Darwin’s theory.
Gone were the long slender well-manicured fingers and in it’s place were working hands – box-like. My hair was tied back in a tight pony-tail which in no way complemented my face and I was wearing a pair of tracks (that have long been screaming for deliverance). I wear them because they are extremely comfortable when working and they have zero maintenance. Comfort’s taken precedence over style. And with nobody looking, no going out, it was kind of here to stay. Only I’m NOT going to let it. I hade my wake-up call.
So, this morning when I woke up to clear gray skies after four days of endless rains I resolved to save what is left of me before ‘I’ become history and in my place is a me that I can never look into the mirror and feel good about.
All you women out there, please look into the mirror once in a while- in the middle of the running around and see if you need to save yourself. The lockdown’s not going away that soon. Let’s not lose ourselves during it.
Has the lockdown transformed you too in ways you don’t like or have you not thought of it yet? Would love to hear from you.
Stay safe. Stay home.
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