Surrender and Acceptance — Things This Pandemic is teaching me.

Last week was a bit crazy. And I guess the one before that too. Although time is of no consequence anymore in our lives — days pass sooner than before and yet weeks drag on. While it is already May and yet it seems like the year has lasted forever. Somewhere I read what we are facing is grief, someone was telling me about its 7 stages, and many have been trying to sell ways to overcome it — not that any of that registers in my head. 

Despite all the chaos in the mind, in the past few days there also has been a strange quietness. The still after the storm some smart ones may say — others, even smarter will say the storm is yet to arrive. Storm or not, the stillness is finally here, and I am so glad it is. 

When the news of the first lockout broke many weeks ago ( I cannot count, really!) I had imagined it to be something that will come and go. Even though there was news of devastation everywhere, in my head I believed that we’d be fine. We are Indians after all what virus can harm us? But that was not to be. From March to April to now in May, we are still locked and the virus is out there roaming free. 

We were supposed to move. The kid had to get her admission. I had to buy new furniture. Things that had taken us years to decide were finally happening. And then they did not. Initially there was anger, resentment, and regret: couldn’t we move sooner? Why did we not preempt it? Will we pay twice the rent? Will the kid never go to school? 

The resentment and anger toned down a bit in the first week. We finally had the extra time we always wanted. We were eating together, coking together, sleeping better. There was music and laughter at home and good food on the table. Yes, there were dishes too, but there were four hands to do them. There was also hope: so what if everyone said the cities won;t open before June, there was no official statement?And then came the statement along with the anger, anxiety and frustration again. The excitement of cooking had given way to irritation, and the family was fighting more than laughing. 

In the past few weeks such ebbs and flows have become constant. There are phases of peace and days of anxiety. Bad news triggers the later, while the beautiful sky aides the former. Maybe that is why I spend almost all my time staring either at the screen or the sky. 

Anyway, I digress. 

The thing is I am a woman who needs control. And in these days I had none. There was nothing I could do about anything that was happening, not even in the kitchen of my own home because what I cooked truly depended on what I found in the market. There was of course no control on the movement, none on my work, not even on my washing machine which decided to break down. 

The first reaction was to to stamp my feet and scream — at everyone in general and no one in particular. I mean I couldn’t even find maida and baking powder! The second was to sulk, and the third to accept. It is strange that I of all people say this but the day I accepted the situation, things started looking better. It wasn’t the easiest thing though and took me quite a few journals, lists, chats and tears to get there. But acceptance was the only way — if I didn’t how would my children do that? Acceptance however did not take away the gloom or the sadness. After watching every movie I ever wanted, painting every lansdcape that I ever fancied, cooking every dish I can humanly cook, reading every book I had saved for ‘one day’ there was still time. Time that had to be filled with something but had nothing to fill it with. And that’s when the tears came — maybe that is what they call grief.

It reached its zenith when the news of Irrfaan’s and Rishi Kapoor’s passing came in. I do not know if I really liked them so much or was it just a tipping point, with all the bad news already clouding in. I wept and wept, slept and slept.

But then something happened (I think this may be the ‘how to overcome’ part they keep writing about). Things started seeming okay. I started feeling less burdened and more easy. My back was not stiff, my face not twitchy; I did not shout at my girls and did not fight with the man. I laughed a bit and smiled sometimes. All in all I felt normal.

I do not know how I will feel tomorrow, but right now, at 2:16 AM, under a beautiful full moon I feel happy and comfortable. I feel content with my day and my life. And I feel hopeful about the future. And I hope this phase is the one that lasts forever.

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