By Gaurav Sinha, CII, GFI
I wake up, and it’s the 25th of March 2020, a new day in a strange sense. A day before the Indian Government announced, a national lockdown for 21 days in response to a global pandemic. A couple of days ago it was my birthday, and I had a friend visiting me, who went on to become my ‘accidental flatmate’ during the pandemic.
Phase 1 – Denial: The last couple of days have been spent looking at people raiding the shelves of every shop stockpiling reserve in case the lockdown continued. We had not caved to the frenzy yet, we thought we were above this. We set up our breakfast and proceeded with our day, as usual. COVID19 and the lockdown were a side gossip for the day, our supplies would last us a couple of days, till then we were sorted.
Phase 2 – Anger: It wasn’t long until our fridge shelves ran empty, and being confined to our homes started to weigh in on our minds. Having an accidental flatmate at the opposite ends of the political spectrum ensued primetime NewsHour-like debates and misdirected anger echoed through my flat.
Phase 3 – Bargaining: COVID was the reality of the times we lived in or the times we are living in (reminder that just because you think the pandemic is over does not mean it is), but it was time we started adapting to it. Work that had become secondary in response to our survival instincts had to be reprioritized, not only to keep the wheels rolling but to keep ourselves engaged and ensure our sanity. Work was a good escape, however, the new normal was new to us, and slowly the lines of work and life beyond started becoming blurry. It was time to take the reins back, a routine was an absolute necessity, and gradually things felt like normal, sorry the new normal. Beyond work, I had replaced my human friends with furry friends living in and around my locality, for the time being, well most of them, I did have a friend trapped with me till the lockdown was over, and even though I wouldn’t admit it to him, it was a blessing to have some company.
Phase 4 – Depression & Loss: I know depression is not a word to be used in light but isolation for such long stretches was unthought of, and it had started taking its toll on all of us. My mother had started working just a while back and was left stranded, away from home with no immediate solution. The lockdown seemed never-ending, and so did her exile. While we tried to keep ourselves together, we suffered a personal loss, and I felt numb, couldn’t even bring myself to react. My grandfather could not get immediate medical attention as no doctor would agree to a home visit. My brother & I were the closest to him, and we could not visit him to pay our last respect, and it broke my heart. That day I kept working, keeping things to myself as if maybe if I kept working I could somehow go back in time. After a while or maybe a couple of days, I took a break still unsure of what was happening, and I got a call.
Phase 5 – Acceptance: It was a colleague from work, no it was a friend, who called up to check up on me randomly. She must have sensed the despair in my voice, and she asked how are you and without waiting for a response went on to add she was here for me. I wasn’t ready to let it all out and tell her what had gone down in the days that just passed and how my world had changed in the strangest sense but hearing those words from a friend felt reassuring. We talked for a bit, promising to connect more often, and ended the call. Sometime after the call, I rang my brother, he had been avoiding everyone since my grandfather passed away but today I tried to reach out to him past the awkwardness that had built up, and it helped us reconcile with our loss. Towards the end of the lockdown, my mother was also back home, and we had made peace with our loss. I had started reaching out to my family and friends more often, and things started to feel normal again in the new normal. Through all of this, I found the routine of work gave me purpose and my family, friends, and colleagues were the necessary balance and that kept me centered and saw me through these troubled times.
How did your lockdown go? Are you okay?