Ishmeet Chaudhry



Ishmeet Chaudhry


A View from the Balcony

A View from the Balcony

4 mins


Four towers stretch in a semi-circle right in front of our flat. It is the forty-fifth day of the lockdown. We live in a huge society, with about 2000 people, nearly impossible to know everyone!


Complacency in life never allowed us to reach out to others; rather the earlier efforts made by us had resulted in disappointment as people failed to reciprocate and extend courtesies, that we had finally stopped taking initiative to know them more.


Everything was fixed, every day was a timetable- home, work, work-out that we never had time for neighbors. A group of a few friends, dinners and tea was quiet satisfying. Once the lockdown began, I felt the need to have at least known the strangers I now see every day from my balcony.


It seems as if we are practically living a speculated condition, a completely unimagined world, perhaps a high-school teacher would have given an essay to her students “Imagine there is a ghost to get you, the moment you move out of your house. You have to remain indoors in a lockdown. Describe what will your life become?”


It is rightly said, it doesn’t take a second for life to change. Life changed in no time since Corona emerged. The pace at which we have been running seems unmatchable to the rising numbers and fatality around the world. No matter how much do we want to gallop, we need to hold our horses. A time when one has to, willingly or unwillingly, begin knowing family and start getting familiar with the indoors of our flats.


Forty-five days after, we are all settled with the new normal of “indoor life” with bouts of depressions and eccentricities surfacing itself periodically. Unable to experience the actual worries of numberless migrants heading home, people have secured a new world in their flats for themselves. The flats are like matchboxes and the privileges seem to be secured in them much contrary to those walking home.


These privileges have a scenic quality around them, more than the photographs of food and saree adorned women, brush challenges being posted on Facebook. Just like Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window” we began getting a view from our balcony too. The road outside has remained empty and silent for many days now; the swimming pool has been standing still reflecting the colour of the sky, the only movement you see is of the dogs and of course, of the pigeons. Interestingly, new sounds have added, the crowing of the crows, chirping of the sparrows and singing of the cuckoo bird. My mother always associated the crowing of the crows to the foretelling of a visit by some guest, but no one visits now days and incase the door-bell rings, all of us raise our eyebrows for a minute, lest a corona carrier is visiting us! Then it turns out to be the garbage collector or some home delivery that we ordered a fortnight back and totally forgotten. We all laugh at our stupidity.


Though, the number of sparrows that you see determines your day. At school this was such a trusted belief: one for sorrow/success; two for joy; three for letter; four for love…I often see two and I am so happy to see a sign of joy in these scary times.


Then the cuckoo bird singing, my daughter has learnt to coordinate with her and to our glory the bird responds to my daughter at times.


Another habit I have lately acquired is to confuse the dogs, I bark at them with such perfection that the bitch inside me shows up. They rise from their sleep and hop up to see who is this new intruder in their vicinity. But when they don’t find any other dog they seem confused, giving me a sadistic pleasure.


It is evening now and I see a woman bringing out a white chair on the seventh floor of the tower on my right, a concaved building. She sits on it and watches out every evening.


Someone on the sixteenth floor of the tower right in front of our house, is swaying on the swing, their tube light flashes behind the swing that moves to and fro, that makes them prominently noticeable.


A boy probably has his evening tea (maybe it is coffee) hanging out from his window.

A woman moves in her balcony talking to someone on the mobile. That is her me-time to talk, maybe to her parents in some other city inquiring about the increasing cases in their city.


The best is a family, three people, who switch off the lights of their room and dance. We can well see their shadows moving. My daughter has marked their time and never forgets to take their attendance.


 A grandfather brings his grand-daughter and plays with her in the balcony. The child’s laughter fills the heart with hope for a better tomorrow.


We shall emerge out of this and I am sure this spectacle, these shapes, figures and shadows, all very familiar now, a very important part of life, will soon be names, once we all have crossed this bridge.

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