I haven’t been this creative in a long time. We made more dinosaurs from Amazon boxes. We are using up every string of recyclables, from the tubes inside toilet rolls to plastic bottle caps. We have been talking a lot to Alexa. We now have an emotional connection. We are also on our 39th run of all episodes of Peppa Pig. We have finished two sets of poster colours, painted all drawing books and a bit of the flooring not to miss my favourite daree. I have been edgy aside of the fact it’s my period week. My children have been home. One is two, another is six, together the two are 26.
Haven’t spent so much time talking to house help, peering into nooks and crannies and under the sofa. They hate me already. And that DIY fervour has me so wired, I even make pickles at midnight. Oh god, kids at home, myself at home, the whole world at home, no playdates, cancelled classes, schools also shut and what not. When I am spent, I look at the mirror and say, “When will this corona shit end?” Before I get drawn into a depressed mode, my husband calls me for a drink and we sit down with our quarantinis. Yeah, It’s just a regular martini but you drink it alone in your house. (Not mine, a WhatsApp forward I loved, so had to find someplace to fit. Lol.)
Oh god, kids at home, myself at home, the whole world at home, no playdates, cancelled classes, schools also shut and what not.
Just the other day I made a picnic of going down (at an empty hour of the day) in the garden with my two kids, a ball and a mat. We became a magnet. Kids attract kids I guess. And there I was hoping to do my Instagram scheduling and other work but instead was there sitting and screaming at all children to keep double-arm distance from each other, not to touch the same football (getting a ‘whatever that means’ look from my son) and play soccer without bumping into each other (to which my son was like …mom we are not playing passing the parcel with a barge pole) and periodically sanitising their hands. My two-year-old took the sanitiser and gave it a squeeze so hard that we were done with a 50 ml bottle in five seconds. My motherboard wondering where I would now secure a replacement (because the reserve one is, after all, a reserve) and chemists are either running out, selling in black or some even selling jello as sanitiser because hell in times of coronavirus anything gives? Jokes apart, read this on what sanitisers actually work in protecting against coronavirus.
Coronavirus couldn’t have chosen a better time to arrive. It’s pollen season in most of India, a transition from winter to spring, a change of weather. Everyone has a cold, cough, and many have fever. If we were to animate people’s reactions, their antennas would shoot up like martians on hearing just that one cough or sneeze in the park or the room. Imagine this among friends and even partners. I would go to the loo even to clear my throat to speak. That thought, “What’s happened to you now? What’s that cough?” And just in case you came from a flight and sneezed (no matter that the reason is the fish fry in mustard oil from the neighbour’s) you have had it.
Today I bought kacchi haldi so I can ‘build immunity’ for my kids. I am going mad. Right? That’s the expression on my children’s face.
Now imagine what’s happening to moms of kids for whom the pollen season is the year’s low point. Whether in Mumbai, Bangalore or Gurgaon most children fall sick at this time of the year. Nearly everyone has that cough. “Is that a coronavirus?” Those prying eyes. Uggh. My little one had a mosquito bite which left a big red patch on her face. “Aunty, what’s that on her face? Some sort of virus?” My jaw dropped at the three-year-old asking me this. Gosh! the public expression, the judgement. All that.
The hardest is trying to explain to kids. And I haven’t been able to find humour in that at all. Kids are just exhausted with don’t do this, do that. Their mom is now a monster at one time and a mower on the other. Am either screaming at them to clean hands or picking things and dusting things up. As my colleague Yamini says, our homes are like battle of Waterloo – things everywhere, things to sanitise, things to hide. My children are singing happy birthday morning and evening since I read out to them that to properly wash your hands to rid yourself of viruses you need to rub hands long enough to sing that song twice. Today I bought kacchi haldi so I can ‘build immunity’ for my kids. I am going mad. Right? That’s the expression on my children’s face. I yell back at them, “Thank god your mom isn’t doing all that the family WhatsApp groups want her to do. So go wash your hands and watch Ben and Holly on Netflix.”
Shaili Chopra is a Stanford Draper Hills Fellow 2019. She is an award winning journalist of 18 years and the founder of SheThePeople. Views expressed are the author’s own.