It has been six days that I haven’t buckled up the belt, tied the laces, revved up the car engine, and didn’t dare to climb down two flights of the staircase. The reason – the corona virus scare. We, the billion-plus nation, hurled into the lockdown and were asked to follow a slew of health measures.  On TV, a panel of doctors voiced their clinical views imploring the steps to follow, and the police vehicle sirens roared as state after state announcing complete lockdown. A few affected states sought curfew where the pandemic has been severe.

Seeing the rapid upsurge of deaths across the most affluent countries in the West, one photograph I came across flagged the ominous savageness of the corona virus. It’s a night photograph. Shown under the florescent lights, a convoy of military trucks lined up before hospitals, presumably, to transport the unmarked, unnamed plastic bags of the dead: the unfortunate infected victims of deadly corona virus. Letting myself to visualize such distressing scene I could feel the jitters, ‘if it could create havoc there, it could also damage fiercely our…..’

I haven’t ever watched such horrific scenes splashed across the internet, which set off thoughts about India where I live. The fact is the humility of subsistence.  Every day, over half a billion, who toil their act together to find a plate on the table, a shelter for the family, and calm nerves at night. Lockdown clamped, I reserve a dreadful suspicion, ‘can these milling masses sit peacefully to bring out the seldom-used commonsense to an active play,’ to arrive at a dutiful decision; to go after the state, the chorus of doctors clamouring the inescapable mantra:  stay at home, social distancing, personal hygiene, and self-isolation. 

Only a few days back, my chest swelled with pride, and eyes twinkled with tears seeing the nation locked down for fourteen hours. Following the call of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to ‘Janata Curfew,’ a voluntary ‘self -curfew,’ at home, a directive gloriously obeyed by the billions of Indians. Later on the same evening, lakhs of people from homes, the balconies, the terraces, windows had filled  the skies with the sounds and claps of solidarity, gratitude, and togetherness for those who are fighting at the forefront, aptly titled, ‘corona warriors.’

While the situation in India takes a turn to remain grim, fluid, and uncertain: self-isolation meant only the suggested way to bail ourselves out: safe and unaffected.

Self-isolation: rings a different clatter in my life. I’m used to its fallout more than fairly; hapless for the ways the hurt silently whips a person’s inner self. The tyrant entered my life three years ago after the death of my wife.  

But the isolation I have been speaking today pertains to an impending calamity asserted by the Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi. He had drummed about the danger softly but firmly, as stoically as a judge delivers the final verdict, announced the diktat, ‘Listen, dear friends, I would want your attention, starting from today midnight for next twenty-one days’ the nation will go into a complete shutdown.’ I have checked the watch, just four hours to go to make any preparation before I wake up to see my tensed mind runs berserk watching the empty roads and loud debates across the scores of channels.

The next day after, I found myself rolled in the empty hours of luxury: no deadlines, no phone calls, no visitors, and no appointments enjoying the memes that were sprouting in the cell phone a dozen a second. 

Enduring twenty-one days’ of total lockdown, confining all by myself at home, turned out much more comfortable than I have assumed it should otherwise be. I’ll share a few small details of, ‘how have I outlined the stay-alone days’ 

I carry myself every day a basket full of activities and reassuring hobbies that I love to do. How I will engage a day is nothing complex but simple things which I value most: to write something, a few personal essays because it suits the sentiments I enjoy. There I have photography, a pursuit that reveals colours of my passion – but I go about cautiously rather not to strain my sixties spirit and strength. 

When I have to speak about photography, the craft has created a fire within which gets brighter each day. I have a presumption that the pictures I focus and compose were the confluence of all the books I keep reading, the core of my gentleness, the music I loved, the people I have cared, the time I valued, and the irony of life I have steered. I wouldn’t mind relish a conviction: at this point in the journey, the habits and the experiences that were accrued so far proved exceptional, in a way, shock –absorbed many bumps I had lived through. This amazing perception itself shaped an artful, creative eye so I can peek around expressively with the camera.

One daily instance:

I see the intricate patterns in my morning strolls among the quivering shadows that the fresh sunlight finely fans. The best part was always the delights seen in sprawling branches and colours a shade brighter in the morning by the treetop foliage seen brushing the parapet.

You have to believe what I keep saying day after day for myself: could there be a better colourful initiation for the day’s creative tug – a work out stimulant?  

Thus, inch by inch, I have got used to hanging on, to sit still, and stay alone for days glued to monitor. Further never felt inconvenienced to elect the day, at any hour, to find myself clamped to the chair with a bulky novel in hand. 

This rigid blueprint, what I’m advising for some, will be a loud ‘out of question’ clamour when you got policed and compelled to stay indoors for more than  21 days. The impossibility of the demand, how it was to be executed is as forbidden, as eccentric as to ask someone to adjust in a coffin, quoting sleeping place is hard to find. 

I’ll propose a healthy routine which you can adapt as a new normal. Even long after we have reverted from the panicky days to calmer sorts, I trust, you can still raise a toast to this self-appointed healing design. 

The plan goes like this:

Just think: sit back and ponder the next fifteen days, how you have failed to notice how extraordinary is the home life. Rooms filled with the gleeful giggles of children, good food, and warmth, the only safe place in the world. It’s a promise you would wonder ‘how I have missed this supportive, nurturing nest,’ and it’s mine the whole time.

Find a new joy in nature around your home, in little things, revealing in bird songs, the ruffling of leaves, the simple pleasures of warm sunlight tickling on the skin, the morning sunlight on the apartments, the evening golden hues seen shimmering at the horizon.

You can learn the sounds of silence, the buzz of your inner reflections, practice the art of emptying your negative thoughts, the subtlety of being yourself enjoying the alone time – for sure, and you don’t know for how long.

Read your favourite books in your preferred language, discover the mystical wits of quotations, inhale the scent of poems, rock with the music, meditate, chant, and pray. You’ll find the invigorating habit consuming you, surprises you, presumably, lets you wander ‘why haven’t I always stayed alone.’  

Spending occasionally some alone time at home, it isn’t a bad idea, ‘that’s how we refuel.’ And ‘home is not a place, home is people, home is hope, home is humbling.’

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