If you read the title and something inside you did a somersault, well, you’re not the only one. It has been a year since we started this journey of getting locked inside our homes and we have come a long way, even if we covered this journey only virtually. When I say this has been the shortest longest year ever, I’m pretty sure you understand what I mean because after all, we’ve been through this together.
It won’t be wrong to say that the pandemic has changed everything- from our work lives to our recreational means. Having dinners at restraint without carrying sanitiser bottles? Partying in a people packed night club alive with lights and dancers? Not having to place orders via QR code menus? Not going through temperature checks every time you enter a public place? Well, all of this is the “new normal”.
The pandemic and the subsequently imposed lockdowns left the hospitality, travel and aviation industry in turmoil with many big names announcing unprecedently record-high amounts of losses. Many businesses decided to shut down as well. This was entangled with multiple salary cuts across jobs in all sectors as well as rising numbers of unemployment.
Those who were lucky enough to not lose their jobs witnessed a unique shift in their working pattern with offices transforming into zoom meetings. The work desk of many employed people shifted from their work location to their study room, drawing room or even sometimes bedroom as people went running across their home departments holding their laptop, chargers, coffee mug, and a sanitiser in hand.
It seemed like the Indian economy numbers didn’t quite like the lockdown experiences as all activities were brought to a standstill. A plunge of 24.4% in the first quarter made the Indian economy recorded negative growth for the first time in history. The Gross domestic product (GDP) in the next quarter also stood at -7.5%.
A lot has changed, or rather everything has changed, including our work life, our social life, our personal needs, our coping mechanisms and most of all- us. So come, dear reader, let’s live that year in a flashback again through our screens.
Welcome to March 2020. Corona Virus has just entered our lives and to be brutally honest, we are very scared of it. And how can we not? We’ve never seen, heard or witnessed anything like this before. You’ve grown sceptical about everyone that’s around you and try to maintain a safe distance from everybody. Well, if you were a hug person, I feel really sorry for you. You suddenly hear the adults in your house talking about the possibility of a nation-wide lockdown, and to be fair, this is a first for most of us. Everybody’s running around hoarding stuff from supermarkets and the ration in your house is suddenly over the top. You comply with all the precautions your parents are asking you to take and for the first time, it doesn’t feel like they’re overdoing it. You haven’t seen your neighbours, friends or even housemaids because well, you’re scared of people. We didn’t realise when we slid from banging thalis to show our support and appreciation for the healthcare workers to the national lockdown that forced us to stay at home at all hours.
We’re in the early phases of lockdown and things seem really hard. Some days you have hope of things getting better while some days are just too depressing to even get up. All you hear about on social media, on news channels, at your home or with your friends via video call is the virus. We now have our dads, who always used to be busy with work, play board games with us. It kind of feels like we got our childhood back. However, while some of us enjoyed the privilege of being safe at our home, there were some who weren’t lucky enough to have enough resources to make ends meet now that the work had come to a halt. Some did not have a roof over their head and were the most vulnerable to the virus while some were stuck in toxic households with no way to escape. The death tally is constantly increasing and we realise how depressing it is to read about all this, so we try to distract ourselves with new hobbies and pastimes. Cooking, dancing, reading, chores- we all found our passion in the little things. Days come with the hope of optimism but the night comes with the feeling of loneliness, anxiety and pessimism. We all saw the plight of migrant workers walking back home, barefoot, with luggage over their heads in the scorching heat of Delhi. As we sit back and wish things were different, we wish there was some way for us to help those poor migrants because even if the government had a way, they certainly didn’t use it.
Months pass by and this starts feeling more permanent than a short-term thing. It just feels really exhausting to talk to people and we feel better alone, in our rooms, in silence. Each month came by bearing one bad news or the other and we lost so many people in the process. Studies for school and college students begin and so does work for people with jobs. We are adjusting to this new mode of learning and our elder siblings or parents are figuring out how to do this work thing online. Constant backaches in the family? Well, tell me about it. Neither work nor studies feel the same anymore, we have a lack of motivation to do anything and that is pretty evident. What else can you expect when we’ve been stuck in our homes for the longest time? You read about the economy crashing down, shrinking for another consecutive quarter and the unemployment rate has almost touched double figures. We know that even if this virus ends sometime soon, the economy will struggle for a long time and so will the poor and middle class, which looks at the current condition of the country, isn’t too far-fetched. None of us was looking forward to the new forward because we wanted our normal back, the original normal, and well to be fair we still haven’t got it.
Even though the lockdown lifted and some activities started becoming offline, with markets opening and people starting to go out, it all just didn’t feel right. Some people forgot that the virus was still there and all the worry that they had at the beginning of the period vanished like it never was there. Some people were still sceptical about going out and went out only for the bare necessities. The cases were still rising, the death toll still at an increasing number. The lockdown had a terrible impact on our mental health and so many of us lost our close ones while suffering from the virus ourselves. We adopted ourselves to this weird situation of what we now refer to as the new normal. The whole year was a blur, if we look back, we can hardly recall a few things that we did the entire year and so many months felt like they went before they came.
Standing at the end of 2020, the news of vaccines finally coming broke the internet. Science and technology are there to save the day, yet again. However, we cannot say the pandemic is over because it is not. We treating the situation like the pandemic is over has us on the verge of another lockdown and you and I both know; we don’t want to be there again. So, no matter how hard it has been, the war is not over yet, and for it to be over, you have to be an ally to the fight, you know how.