In these past four months, if there has been one activity that has brought me much needed peace and comfort, it is baking bread. But looking at all the posts about high electricity bills doing the rounds on social media, I wonder, will this bread cost me more than the time and effort that I put in? We were not prepared for the pandemic, we were not prepared for the lockdown, and I am afraid that my dear husband will choke on my delicious bread when the “revised” bill for electricity lands in our letterbox. Now I know using my microwave-oven will not lead to a highly dramatic bill, but this is a middle-class urban family we are talking about. Electricity bills are a subject matter of thesis for us.

I acknowledge my privileges, so in a way fussing over my hypothetical electricity bill may sound eccentric and elitist to many. But coming from a middle-class family I am conditioned to think of my electricity bill as a matter of reputation. A low electricity bill earns you bragging rights, for being both eco-friendly and saving big money. So it hurts one’s pride when your neighbour asks you “bill kitna aya,” and all you can do is hang your head in shame and sigh.

Besides, it is not just the humble work from home mommies and daddies like us who have been unprepared for the uncalculated cost of “stay at home” directive, which took its own sweet time to rise, like my pizza dough. Actor Taapsee Pannu was recently left flummoxed when she was at the receiving end of an electricity bill worth Rs 36,000. “3 months of lockdown and I wonder what appliance(s) I have newly used or bought in the apartment only last month to have such an insane rise in my electricity bill. @Adani_Elec_Mum what kind of POWER r u charging us for?” she wrote on Twitter.

Also Read: Eight Simple Tips To Make The Best Out Of Work From Home During Lockdown

Yesterday, though the Thappad actor clarified that after some “number crunching” the bill didn’t seem that outrageous after all. “So after an hour-long meeting, crazy amount of numbers n calculations floating around, realised the ‘approximate’ reading wasn’t really THAT approximate. Infact far from it,” she wrote, adding that “sitting n witnessing the day-wise report from my meter for the lockdown phase made me realise how unprepared we ALL were to handle this. Third month bill came in with the charges of difference in amount between actual reading and ‘approximate’ reading of the first 2 months.”

Okay, so we all need to understand how approximation works, but then when actual readings are taken, sooner or later, some of us, or maybe a lot of us will have to deal with an electricity bill that we aren’t used to seeing. Come to think of it, it isn’t just electricity that hasn’t been on our minds these past few months, as we settled into a lifestyle we were not used to.

What day was it into the lockdown when you began to worry about your kids’ screen time or lack of rigorous outdoors, for instance? When was it that you began to worry about your Vitamin D levels? Or are you, like me, still waiting for a bill or minor travesty (everything seems minor if compared to the pandemic now, doesn’t it?) to catch you unprepared. Like the fungus on outdoor clothes that you wore just once, folded, put in your closet and then forgot? A shock that you didn’t anticipate on the household front could be just lurking, waiting to jump on you while you were fussing over a pile of dirty dishes. As Taapsee wrote in one of her tweets, “it’s the sudden jerk in the amount in the bill that none of us were prepared for which has hit us really hard.”

Also Read: Privilege In Bollywood: It Is Not About Who Gets It, But Who Bears Its Costs

Coming back to my electricity bill, and yours, I have been trying to justify all my baking as a necessity. There was no bread available for a couple of months. We couldn’t step out of the house very frequently. Of course, the kid had to be treated with a homemade pizza and chocolate brownie cake, for being such a good sport in these testing times. And clearly, my own sanity is not a reason big enough, even in my own eyes.

But perhaps there is a silver lining here. In a year that has been defined by our unpreparedness, I guess these little “shocks” keep you from growing numb and remind you that even in times of catastrophe you are alive and well. So while I count the units on my meter, I will not forget to count my blessings too.

Image Credit: India Today

The views expressed are the author’s own.

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.