The scorching heat of the summer season was making everyone feel very unenergetic and the special guest– “lockdown” refused to leave us. Its indefinite stay was getting on our nerves. Our summer vacations were ruined and so were our fun times. Every summer, I would visit my cousins place for a stayover and we would have fun staying up late and each day would be power packed with so much to do. Then on my return they would stay with me for a few days. We would play in our garden, go for movies, drive down for post dinner ice-cream treats and then sleepless nights with so much to talk about. Chinu too would eagerly wait for their visit. The concept of summer vacation was not known to him as yet. Summer vacations also called for stayover at my paternal and maternal grandparents. My doting grandparents would load the fridge with ice-creams, chocolates and aamras (mango pulp) which would be the desert for all times. This ruling pandemic ensured that we could not do any of these things this summer. Virtual reality was the in-thing and getting connected was largely dependent on wi-fi and mobile data plans. But, what’s the fun in staying connected the virtual way than meeting actually- in person. Right? Laptops and mobiles became more dearer and it felt as if they were the only saving grace. By now, Chinu too started posing with his toy laptop and phone and showed off that he is working just like dad. The poor 5-year-old kid also knew that this is the future. Infinite plans were being made on what to do after lockdown but this uninvited guest refused to leave us.
The entire world’s economy and population was getting choked due to the tight noose of the Corona virus but we kids were always hopeful that yes! times will change, we will soon meet our near and dear ones, we will soon go on vacations and we will soon start going to our schools. Schools? Did I say that we will go to school? Lockdown had made Chinu and me extremely lazy and indifferent to our studies. Chinu had got into mainstream school starting this year and I had stepped in the secondary section. I was happy living in the virtual world of happiness, games, T. V. shows and long chats with my cousins. Chinu was missing his old school and he refused to show any kind of interest in the new school. It was tough times ahead for my mom. Because mom oversaw our studies, she dictated the regime of our study and play time.
Our new academic year sessions always commence in the month of April, then we would break in May and resume in June. This April beginning, we had our school launching the e-learning schedule for all grades and we had to pull up our socks for the new reality – “the virtual classroom sessions”. As for me, I was still figuring out the virtual classroom app and was thinking this is such an indifferent way of teaching. Each teacher would login in the allotted slot and we would attend the class. It was a big change for the students and teachers. It was a tough job ahead. Not all teachers were technical experts but they were struggling with preparing study material over PowerPoint presentations and preparing assignments. They too, were having infrastructure problems. Not all had laptops and desktops to prepare the study materials or even conduct classes!! They too had to balance between their home responsibilities, their kids and classroom sessions. And above all they had to make the sessions lively so that we students are comfortable attending the classes. The beginning of the lockdown was so unannounced that everyone, all age groups, and professions, had no time to prepare for these new changes. But our loyal teachers ensured that they took up the challenge and became tech experts and got into delivering excellent virtual classes. Chinu’s classroom sessions too had started. As is he was being very indifferent to the new school and with this virtual thing, he refused to sit for it. Then, our “wonder woman”, my mom decided to accompany him so that he is comfortable attending this new way.Of all the things that she was doing with cooking, cleaning, sanitizing, and working, this too was a job added to her list. She started her day an hour early so that by Chinu’s class session she is free to get him to attend the class. She spoke to his new teacher and asked her if she could ask Chinu to participate and lo! Chinu was all over the place. He started enjoying the class and accepted that going forward this will be the new real thing.
The studies were picking up now. Classes and assignments put together were making me run on my toes. The morning scene was so picture perfect – my dad with his laptop, me with an I-pad or laptop whichever was available and Chinu with his toy laptops and phone. Mom would choose to work from afternoon. We had to mute and unmute at each other’s convenience. Mobile hotspots became more critical after broadband (wi-fi). Assignments were pouring in; homework was being assigned and I was losing control of my study schedule because lockdown had spoilt me. It had made me very lazy, very gullible, and very complacent. I was very chilled out and felt that I couldn’t take the pressure. Whereas I did all this during our normal school days but now I just couldn’t cope up. Well! I couldn’t or I didn’t want to? Guess the latter one was true. Lockdown was just a reason, maybe I was lazy and taking everything for granted. Blame it on these times. Damn! So here I decide to get into serious business and get back to my studies. This would probably be the last chapter of my lockdown diaries. Not that I have surrendered to this stay at home and study schedule but I feel whatever I have learnt is enough and caused me to evolve in my attitude.Now it is time to implement and accept that if being virtual is a change then I must change as per the new reality and not run away from it.
This diary will be a precious testimony of our tough times but also of our “being home-being together” times. We unlearned so many things, we learned to live within limits and adjust with some paucities. I will preserve this diary and open again when I surely feel to mention something special or something that caused a change in me or my family. Because while writing this diary it was never “Me” it was always “Us”. Cheers to these good times because we lived with our near and dear ones safe and sound. Prayers to those who are facing this misery and kudos to our human Gods who are fighting this war day and night for our safety and well- being!!