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Image Credit: AFP

Well, I am reading War and Peace as I happily ensconce myself into a self-quarantined mode.

However, yesterday when I went to the supermarket to buy some vegetables, I could see that my neighbour was certainly at war with the pandemic that had totally broken her world apart.

“What has this world come to, I have to now buy shampoo?” screamed a miffed Hema into my ears, from two metres away. Yes, social distancing has become the way of life now if you want to survive.

Incidentally she would visit the beauty salon every two days to wash her hair and for other endless paraphernalia. She was unrecognisable, the wrinkles around her eyes seemed to have turned more prominent, her tresses looked distressed and as she filled her trolley with shampoo bottles.

It’s heartening to see Tweeps trying out new recipes and posting pictures of delicious food, tips on how to keep children occupied, authors dishing out lists of books to be read while we isolate ourselves and also best ways to manage 'work from home' and enjoy its perks.

- Navanita Varadpande, writer

To make matters, worse the shisha bar next door has shut and Hema used to be there every evening, lounging away. She was already going into depression, not knowing what to do with herself.

The house seems to bite her now. Her misery scared me, I felt that she will collapse out of “Coronatined anxiety” than from infection caused by the spiked, alien-like, minute monster!

Later I called her and told her to take an online course on meditation and yoga. These are aspects of life that I realise would probably sanitise our souls too.

The carom, Ludo, Monopoly and Scrabble boards are out. Mothers have turned superheroes for real, engaging their children, teaching them, as schools have been sending various online assignments and striking an optimum balance at the home-front and maybe even managing office work.

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Mrs Singh has been busy making endless cups of tea, her husband is used to sipping the beverage as he works. Now she is at her wits end and has spoken aloud her trauma on the newly formed “Covid-wives’-support” WhatsApp group and there was a plethora of hilarious solutions to the problem. Sofia’s five-year-old son relentlessly inquires every 15 minutes, “Is the virus dead now, can we go out to play?”

Mrs Kohli, a huge fan of all things “Englaaand” was heart-broken when she heard that Prince Charles was stricken by the little monster — I shared her pain, “Corona-tion continues to elude the prince while the corona embraces him, so just pray for him Mrs Kohli!”

And one thing that all of us have singularly agreed upon is that “God could not be everywhere hence he created delivery boys.” Striving round the clock, masked, gloved and probably invisibly cloaked, they have been meeting up with every demand that we have.

The haven of magical bonding

There’s a hue and cry about being confined to the house, social media is strewn with hashtags — #StayHome, #StaySafe. Celebrities have come up with videos on how they are spending time at home, doing the mundane chores and reading. It’s heartening to see Tweeps trying out new recipes and posting pictures of delicious food, tips on how to keep children occupied, authors dishing out lists of books to be read while we isolate ourselves and also best ways to manage “work from home” and enjoy its perks.

What occurs to me now is that it’s so simple to be happy, but it is so difficult to embrace the simple, elementary sources of joy that lie hidden in the nooks and corners of our cosy homes. It hardly matters in life whether we go to the spa, the beauty parlour, the malls, the restaurants, the movie halls, the clubs, the cafes.....these places enticed us away from home.

Home is the hearth, the haven of magical bonding. And we had unknowingly moved away and inched out of that warm sphere. All the workplace deadlines drove our nerves to despair, the enumerable official tours saw people beset with myriad health problems. We needed to slow down, ponder, reflect upon where it was that we were all heading.

Life is a blessing, today if we wake up healthy, if our family and friends emerge unscathed by this virus, we need to be more than grateful. Yes, we are back to the basics, isn’t that what we had yearned for?

— Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @navanitavp.