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Archana Natarajan

Abstract


4.8  

Archana Natarajan

Abstract


Day 1 of Lockdown #COVID- 19

Day 1 of Lockdown #COVID- 19

7 mins 244 7 mins 244

25th March 2020

Diary of a new mother 


My entire series of these 21 days will be based on my experience of being in this lockdown and staying home as a first-time mother of a 5-month-old baby, Anvay. 


Dear Diary, 


Yesterday, for some reason Yd urged me to get out of the house in the afternoon as soon as Anvay woke up after his nap and after his feed was ready to play with his thatha-pati( grandparents). This was our golden hour when we could go out and get some vegetables and also get some pending items from our grocery list since the baby was awake and would usually play around with his toys. The one day nationwide lockdown #JantaCurfew on the 22nd of March 2020 had prompted us to buy some essentials like baby top-up formula powder and also tetra-pack milk cartons for our consumption in case there wasn’t any milk supply post the 22nd of March. I was very reluctant to leave the house at 3:00 PM thinking Anvay was seeming a little cranky even after his feed and would need me around. 

‘It will be a quick round and we can come back in half an hour,’ he said and hurried me up by getting the vegetable bags and also some cash. 

We left in our car to go to the nearby street vegetable market, called the Jayanagar 9th block market. It was just a walking distance from our house but we chose to take the car as we were not in a position to carry that many heavy bags in our hands. We drove around our standard route, first bought milk from our regular joint, ‘Aunty shop’ as we call it and went towards the 9th block market. To our shock, on the 24th of March 2020, afternoon in a busy area like Jayanagar, there was not a soul around. All the vegetable vendors had closed their pushcarts, the big and small shops of grocery, utensils, eateries, everything was closed. The shutting down of Bangalore Central itself had reduced the hustle-bustle in our area but it was surprising that there weren’t any vegetable vendors seen. Since the crossroads had been closed by barricades, we had to take a long turn and come back to the street near the Ragigudda temple. To our delight, there were few vegetable vendors and our regular flower seller friend Annigi who called us out aloud and asked us to come and buy flowers from her and also vegetables from her friend who had a huge mini vegetable truck loaded with all the possible vegetables except leafy greens. We followed suit and saw that since there were no other customers we could pick up whatever vegetable we wanted without worrying about being in close proximity to another person. We had not started wearing masks by then. We carried a good quality hand sanitiser in the car. With a baby and elders at home we wanted to be extra careful. We had our bags full by then the end of the purchase. Thinking that we should not be coming out of the house for at least a week, Yd suggested that we buy 2 kgs each of potato, tomato, and onions. While we were about to ask for the total bill we realised that the above three items themselves had cost around Rs. 250. The rest of the greens amounted to Rs. 700 and above. We were shocked to hear the final amount had crossed Rs.1000. We had never carried so much cash to buy vegetables. Clearly something was wrong!! The prices were not doing justice to the quantity we had bought. We thought that there was something that was going to happen that was a trigger to such high prices. Seeing our wallets empty, the vegetable seller, who was known to us, asked us to get money from home or give him the next day. We left from there embarrassed, promising him that we would be back soon. We wanted to cross the deserted Ragigudda arch but could not as there were barricades put across the road. We had to come back home, pick up some cash and then head towards Nilgiris. Usually, the mini supermarket Nilgiris is not very crowded except in the evenings when we see the Dunzo delivery agents waiting in a long queue outside. It was somehow unusually crowded that afternoon. There were customers who were hoarding groceries. We did our purchase, which comprised oil, rice, and atta and left from there to pay back the vegetable seller. That busy street that will not be this deserted even during a Karnataka bandh was still very quiet. We were suspecting a curfew of sorts again but never did we imagine a lockdown for 21 days which was announced the same night by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji. 


After considering the scenario outside yesterday we felt that just like us the other people around would have also suspected something like this because of which hoarding was seen and prices of vegetables were so high. We would soon face a demand and supply problem. We just prayed that the medicines, groceries, milk and vegetable supplies shouldn't get hit because the livelihood of many was dependent on them. Our maids had already been given off from the 22nd of March and it would continue until further notice from the government. We assured the maids that we would not be cutting their salaries and they can feel free to ask for any kind of financial help if needed to sustain their families during this period. The nursemaid who was coming home to help out with Anvay’s bath session was also off from the past one week and this news only prolonged her absence longer. I was okay with it as I was very comfortable giving him a bath and massage and also, it meant more bonding time for the baby and me. 

Anvay is 5 months old today and on a lighter note, my baby boy also kept staring at the tv screen from far in shock and dismay when we were watching the news and getting to know about the rules applied during the lockdown. As a monthly birthday ritual, I made him wear a new dress gifted by my colleagues and took the mandatory photo with his 5-month completion milestone card. Anvay was witnessing history from today. Dealing with this pandemic is tough and I am sure when Anvay grows up we will have an important story to tell. We just hoped things would be normal as soon as possible. For my little one and me, this lockdown wouldn’t be any different because we have been home-bound from the time we got introduced to each other. Our world was limited to home and only home for almost 3 months and later on, we added a couple of kilometers to our visit around daily while I was babywearing him. The daily evening walks outside to our aunty shop to buy milk would halt for a while and we both had to stick to our mini-terrace for the evening walks. So, I guess for any new mother with a newborn/infant this lockdown life would pretty much not change; it is just that the others would be able to relate with a new mothers’ feeling better and also support the emotional well being of a new mother, just like helplines are being opened to keep up the mental health of all those who are in this lockdown. 


This 21-days lockdown also meant that my Amma-Appa, who were supposed to come after a couple of weeks, wouldn't be able to make it to Bangalore. We had to reschedule their ticket to a later date hoping things would get normal. Thankfully Air Asia had sent out the email where using the AVA option we could reschedule the flight stating COVID 19 pandemic as a reason. I am sure there are many such travellers whose important plans have been postponed or canceled. So, this was Day 1. Let us see what the other days have in store. 


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