The Unending - II
The Unending - II
Surviving within the four walls is hard for me, especially for someone remaining outdoors almost 15 out of the 24 hours. I worked from home during the first two months of the lockdown. But, then it was unbearable, to say the least. All the executives were working from home and the company made sure none of its employees were made to work putting their safety at stake.
I was bored to death. The lockdown just stepped into its third month. There was a partial opening of corporations but nobody had any idea about when are things going get normal as before. My sister Maya was going through a state of depression following the forfeiture of the JEEs. She has been waiting for these days all her life and I've seen her prepare herself all these years for getting to shape her future after her 12th.
Nobody would admit but working at home isn't anything like working at the office. Except for few highly dedicated employees, most of us actually keep our PCs open the whole time while investing the only 1/4th of the total period on the assigned work. Besides, your 'loving' family has an unknown vendetta against this work@home thing. Often between the calls, my mom would walk in with a plate filled with raisins and cashew nuts and say 'Swara beta, this will help increase your concentration.' How ironic! But, then you can't react anything fearing the fading of that bright smile on her beautiful face.
I would give her a soft nod. Then it'd be my father. 'Swara, look what I found. My friend Girish just sent this. This whole coronavirus thing is a planned...'
'Dad! Please...' I would say in annoyance. 'How many times did I tell you not to believe anything that is forwarded through WhatsApp.' I would say looking up at him amidst my work.
Dad was skeptical about my comments. 'But, Girish won't lie. If he has said it, it must be...'
Now I knew I had no proof or evidence with me to prove that Uncle Girish is not the creator of this message.
Sighing at my confused father, I'd smile. 'I'll explain to you after I finish the work.' would be my defense strategy not to get decimated by the intellect and truthfulness of Uncle Girish.
It wasn't that I communicate any less with my colleagues. In fact, now Ananya has even more topics to discuss with me than she had during the open days. She'd call in every one or two hours and banter about how working from home is not at all a suitable thing to hold. Sometimes, she'd even go on and tell how the lockdown is getting people more depressed than ever and how badly the daily wage labourers were suffering.
I could relate with her with few statements. The cool thing was now I know there were more people who were not at all in the mood to give their 100% through work@home. Thank you, Ananya.
Ananya would often mention Arnav too. He was depressed upon staying inside the whole time. 'You understand how man are, right?' Ananya said pitying her husband.
I just scoffed. 'Men will be men.' I sighed knowing Ananya wouldn't ponder much about the epigrammatic irony displayed in the line.
After my work hours are 'officially' over, I would go to Maya's room. She is the only person who wouldn't come and talk to me the whole time. She would close herself in her room the whole time and talk so less. I spoke with Dr. Biswas, the psychiatrist who once helped me to get put of a certain phase of my life.
Maya had three counseling sessions with Dr. Biswas through video calls. Unlike me, she won't open up. She'd just ask 'Doctor, do you have any idea when are they going to conduct the exams..?'
Even though I don't prefer, I would sleep with Maya in her room in every alternate day when my mother won't. Her books were piled up on the table and she'd look at them with stoned eyes till the lights were off. 'It's just an exam Maya. We need to live first. Now, if we all are fine, we can sit for as many exams as possible. Even our works, the factories, several things are stagnant and would resume only when things get better. Please, try to understand.' I would explain holding her hand in mine as we sleep. Maya wouldn't say a thing and softly place her head on my shoulders.
'In that case, can we just uncount 2020 di..? Then why can't the year be declared as a nonexistent and let all of us stop aging years for that say? Maybe we can start 2020 from January itself when everything begins..!' She said calmly.
I know she didn't want or expect me to answer that. In fact, she wanted me to question the same. I would hug her tight. 'Try to get some sleep, Maya. Think about something nice.' I would suggest it.
I couldn't see Maya like that. She had uninstalled all her social media apps and was not answering any calls from her friends or her teachers. Swayam, a friend of hers even came to our doorstep today to make sure she was fine.
Usually, we don't allow people inside in this situation but the boy seemed so restless. It was 7 am and he rode a bicycle as it seemed and his face was drenched with sweat, also thanks to the big FFP2 mask.
'I've called Maya a lot of times. I know she's disturbed. But, why is she offline? She's scaring us!' Swayam said with concern in his eyes.
Swayam and Maya were childhood friends with similar choices. But, with time Maya became too consumed in her studies while Swayam became a typical fun-loving boy who didn't care much about studies. Swayam was a genius when it came to computer applications and yes, I have no shame to accept that the little boy helped me a lot two years back to crack a very difficult code. Alas! Our system! Swayam's grade didn't allow him to chose the subjects of his choice and he appeared for 12th from Arts stream this year. But, the cheerful boy didn't mind. He loved literature and when I wasn't at home, he even borrowed a piece of 'Sons and Lovers'.
Initially, I was pissed. That ain't a book for a minor...was what I perceived. But, then I questioned the basic definition of a minor...!
Swayam was asked by my father to wait in the porch and was allowed inside only after he sprayed a few drops of sanitizer on his hands.
He was happy to see me. I didn't notice but with time, little Swayam has grown up to be a handsome boy.
'Swara Di...can you please call Maya! I called her many times. She seems so off lately. I understand she isn't in a good mood but..' his face had a concern, mixed with hesitation as he licked his lips. The expression was too familiar to me at one point in time. Even though the holder of the expression held way fewer emotions than the young boy sitting in front of me.
And then..alas! Maya refused to meet him. After waiting for ten minutes, Swayam left with a heavy heart. 'Tell her not to panic di. I..we the students of Arts even missed an exam.' He said before walking off.
According to Maya, someone as reluctant and casual as Swayam would never understand what she's going through. Swayam was an ambitionless, go-with-the-flow guy according to her. She felt disturbed by getting calls from him.
'Hm..I'm not sure if being so concerned and visiting your friend during this pandemic period is a go-with-the-flow, Maya. Besides, where are your friends Chandrima, Naren and Ravi? Did they try to reach out to you?' I asked.
Maya looked at me frowning. 'Why would they? They have their own work? They must be sad too. In fact, I called both Ravi and Chandrima and nobody received the calls...see...they are depressed because they know that things are never going to be the same again..' she said.
I looked at her puzzled. Everything made sense. The harsh truth hit me. 'We look before and after..and pine for what is not..' Shelley said.
I walked back to my room and opened my PC.
'Got to start my work.' I said to myself.
'Swara beta..! Look, Girish' theory of eating dry fish is supported in Sunday Bulletins too..' I heard Dad shout from the living room.
Ugh!...wait...Sunday bu...' I sighed closing my PC.