Hair Saga, Khopa, Khopar Kata

Gift of the lockdown, pandemic, less frequent visits to salon whatever it maybe, I got my tresses back. My hair just grew and grew well. Soon I started trying different styles of khopa or juda at home. I became obsessed with khopa or bun. I was delighted when I could make a haath khopa. If you are a Bengali, you know what a haath khopa is. Every morning my Mom would wrap her long black hair around her palm and make a simple bun. The bun would come off often and her black tresses tumble down to be made into a bun again.  Much that I admired the process and her long black hair, I didn’t really fancy a khopa, let alone a haath khopa then. I thought it was too commonplace, there was nothing fashionable about it!

But I loved long hair, maybe my mom’s and masi’s thick black hair inspired me to grow my hair. When I was in class 7, I refused to cut my hair. Though my dad thought I was wasting too much time on my hair when I should be studying, I was strongly supported by my dadi and nani.  And soon I had luscious black hair tumbling down my waist and falling on my hips. My crown of hair was my pride for years. When in school I would tie them neatly into two braids. In college and later when I started working, I would tie them into a single plait or sometimes leave them open. I was noticed for my hair, received so many compliments. Whenever I walked into a room someone or the other would comment on my hair. I loved my long black hair, but then it got boring.

Steps it is

In my late 20s, I got tired of my hair, of wearing the same look for years, of not being able to do much with my hair save tie them into a braid or leave them open. I would tie my hair into a bun or haath khopa at home but that I didn’t fancy. Short hair would be so much smarter I thought. I went to a parlour to get a haircut only to be turned back. People long for such long black hair I was told. Forgotten pride for my tresses raised its head and I came back feeling elated for the moment at least. But that lasted only for days. I went to a different parlour this time dragging my sister-in-law along for support. I sat on the chair and asked them to cut my hair before they could say anything. I still remember my sister in law shutting her eyes when they chopped off my tresses and took them back inside. ‘Which style do you fancy?’ the stylist then asked me.

I wanted steps and I wore my hair in steps, sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter, for years. Then came COVID and we were locked in. Visit to parlours was not advisable so my hair kept growing, soon they were falling on my back. I realized I had missed my longer hair, though I lost bit of thickness they still look good. Finally, when I could go to the parlour, I asked them to just trim my hair and remove the steps.

Then I started experimenting with khopa, something that I have never done before. It could be because I love wearing saris and khopa looks so classy with a sari. I could see the simplicity and the elegance in mom’s haath khopa. I ordered khopar kata and nets online. Khopar kata, was once a very popular hair accessory that dominated fashion. Brides were given khopar kata in gold and silver when they got married. I urged my mom to check if she had any such traditional kata, but unfortunately, she had none. Her dadi had one I was told, but she doesn’t know where it is anymore.

Fortunately, I could find traditional khopar kata online, though the ones what our dadi and nani had would be far better, I am sure. Finally, I could make a haath khopa that a kata would hold well. It looked good, it was quick and easy.

So, in the lockdown, I rediscovered my love for long hair and found my khopa and khopar kata. Some may find it old fashioned but that’s what I have become over the years – a sari, a bindi and a khopa and I am done, for tradition never goes out of fashion!

When common cold lost its banality and sneeze lost its blessings

Sneeze Bless You Clip Art

I used to come down with a cold often as a child, sometimes even fits of sneezing. I would look at the mom with heavy pleading eyes in the morning hoping that she would look at my plight and allow me to skip school. Unless the cold was accompanied by fever I would be dragged out of bed and packed off to school. “It’s just a common cold,” she would tell me. “Don’t have ice cream and cold water and you will be fine.” So, no ice cream and cold drinks for a week at least, school every day and homework, and gargling at night and taking steam to make things worse.

“Common cold,” I found the term so unfair. It would leave me feeling drowsy and drained and no one would care. I could stay home only if I had a fever. Even mild temperature wasn’t taken too seriously, though I would be kept at home and monitored. In fact, fever or seasonal flu had its own charm. I would enjoy those lethargic, lazy, no school days and all attention that the fever brought along. Till about a year back, taking a break from work to recover from a mild fever or flu was kind of relaxing.

Common cold’s cousin sneeze, sometimes caused by cold, sometimes by dust or allergy, was never feared, always blessed. “Bless you” we would say when someone sneezed. There are various sayings behind why a sneeze drew blessings. Apparently, a sneeze is the closest thing to death. It is said that our heart stops for a fraction of a second when we sneeze, don’t know if this is actually the case. It is also believed that Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) suggested saying “God bless you” after a person sneezed as one of the symptoms of the plague was coughing and sneezing. In hopes that this prayer would protect them from otherwise certain death the custom saying “God bless you” or “bless you” came into being. That sneezing causes someone to expel their soul out of their body is another belief, hence “God bless you” to ward off the devil snatching our soul.

Despite these sayings we never associated sneezing with death or evil, it was rather innocuous save for minor irritations. “Bless you” was just a polite thing to say if we heard someone sneeze.

Enter COVID-19 and sneeze turns deadly, for one sneeze could carry the lethal virus that could infect many. Cold and mild temperature are the most feared symptoms, I wonder whether cold will be considered common ever. Gone are days when you could enjoy the lethargy of mild fever. The moment someone sneezes or coughs they are isolated lest they infect the others. Once low-rung ailments, cold and sneeze have really gone up the ladder. Not sure if they are enjoying the rise or cursing the pandemic like all of us.

Jatropha Red

Image courtesy Plantsguru

My red flowering plant is infested by woolly white plant bugs, woolly aphids (I learnt after googling). I have been trying everything to get rids of these bugs – neem oil, alcohol spray, soap water. They give in to the treatment only to resurface under some leaf or some hidden branch. I have chopped off a few branches as well to rid my plant of the sticky bugs. My red flowering plant in the meanwhile (Jatropha Red it’s called) is trying to bloom despite the bugs. The flowers, a little droopy maybe, some buds I had to get rid of thanks to Mr Aphids, refuse to give in and burn bright red in indignation, in hope.

I sometimes feel like the Jatropha Red, fighting the worms, trying to save my buds, struggling with the exasperation, the gloom and the despair, feelings that seem to haunt me often nowadays. And sometimes I wish I could be like the bug. No matter how hard I try to put it down up pops its woolly head shamelessly under some leaf or some branch, ready to put up a fight. The brazenness of the woolly aphids has only made me more determined. I keep a close watch and attack them the moment I spot their dull white. I spray insecticide, I chop off the infested branch whenever possible and I am getting better of them for sure. They will be gone in no time, I know for certain, and my Jatropha Red will bloom in all its glory. Meanwhile, the red flowers, although droopy, give me hope. No matter how bugged they are, their red drowns the annoying woolly white.

It maybe apt to stretch the metaphor of the bug-infested Jatropha Red to the dire straits that we are in. Badly bugged by the infamous Corona Virus we are struggling to bloom, to fight, to stand tall. So many people we know and love have succumbed to the virus or are caught up in a tough fight. Oxygen cylinders are scarce, hospitals have run out of beds and crematoriums are running overtime and even setting up funeral pyres in the parking lot. Those who may not have been affected physically are trying to deal with the mental anguish that the virus has caused. As we try to support the ones we love, frustrating efforts of procuring an oxygen cylinder or a hospital bed or shelling out thousands to a black marketeer to procure a vial of remdesivir, we struggle to put up a brave face. 

At times we break, the masks of our gallantry crumble, we feel scared, hopelessly sinking into an endless abyss. Some nights we lie awake trying to make sense of all the uncertainty and the bleakness around us. In the morning we pull ourselves out of the bed, the hollow feeling dragging us along. But then hope buds and we look beyond the darkness and the despair. 

But no matter what, elections should happen and so should IPL.  Our political leaders are busy addressing poll rallies or blaming each other for the mess that we are in and our cricketing gods are happily playing IPL.  Our cine divas are busy vacationing and scorching the beach in skimpy bikinis or posing in designer masks. After all, we need to be entertained you see, even on our death bed.  Thank god for a few exceptions like Sonu Sood!

Eventually we conquer the hollow feeling and like Jatropha Red, we bloom despite all the gloom. We stand by each other and help each other out to sail through these very difficult times, probably one of the worst crises that humanity has encountered. And I am sure like the Red Jatropha we will beat the ugly bug.

Things that keep me going…

The purple bloom of Periwinkles brings a smile to my face. These Sada Bahar flowers that bloom through the year are indeed my Nayantara (star of my eyes). The yellow and orange flowers, wild they may be, add happy colours to my days. As I wake up in the morning these little flowers and the green plants in my balcony garden cheer me up. To see them growing and blooming gives hope in these dreary times.

Some plants droop too, the leaves wilt, they revive again and new shoots come out. A flowering plant was infested with insects sometime back. Checking online for the right medicine (neem oil. I also used sanitiser initially) and keeping a close watch and the relief when the plant became insect free and new leaves started coming out. Google is my gardening teacher. I keep browsing for garden tips online. Whenever there’s some problem with a plant I check online for the possible reason and cure. It works sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t. For instance, the croton that I recently bought is drooping and wilting. I have tried everything but it’s just not responding. I have a feeling that I may be losing it, and that makes me sad.

It all started a few years back when I moved into my own apartment. In rented accommodation, when I needed to shift every other year, the only plant that I had was a Tulsi. My father who had come down to see my new apartment insisted that I should get some plants. So, I got a palm, some other indoor plants and a few succulents. I didn’t know much about gardening then and on the insistence of an overzealous maali, my plants would be fertilized every fortnight. Needless to say, most of them died from over-fertilization and I fired the maali.    

My green corner. The wilting croton missing from the pictute

I started gardening on my own then. I planted easy to grow non-fussy greens like jade, money plant, aloe-vera, periwinkle and palms. I got cuttings from my friends and neighbours, I picked up a few from the nursery. I fared much better this time. My plants seemed to be doing well. Though the crotons that I bought because they reminded me of Agartala didn’t survive the Delhi heat. I got a small 9 o’clock plant from the neighbour that multiplied and bloomed through the summer last year. A friend of mine once said looking at the jades and nine o’clock “Oh, these are besharam plants. They will growing keep growing and multiplying.” And I love them for their shameless arrogance. When we went into a lockdown last year the bright blooms of the nine o’clock kept my spirits up. 

Working from home gave me more time to attend to my greens. I added many more plants in the last one year – peace lily, snake plants, ferns and so many beautiful plants whose name I know not. I spend an hour in the morning with my them and that feels like time well spent. With so much negativity around the soothing green keeps me positive, helps me deal with the moments when I feel low.

I match the décor of my house with my plants – a new rug, cushions that brighten the room add a spark to my day. I was recently asked why I am so particular about the way I keep my house in these semi-lockdown days when hardly anyone’s visiting. I do it because it makes me happy, helps me keep my sanity. For we need to keep our spirits up to beat all the darkness around.

I Want Real

Back to back video calls, webinars, phone ringing constantly, e-mails pouring in. Regular calls with the team to discuss and plan the day for don’t see each other anymore. Scrambling to meet deadlines, virtual office seeping into our evenings and nights…

Calls with friends and family, sometimes on video, for we don’t know when we will meet them for real… COVID-19 pushes us into the bounds of our virtual worlds.

After all the calls and video conferences and deadlines, if we are left with some time, we browse the OTT channels to watch a movie or a series. Or we surf the social media platforms and talk about our life virtual. We can visit the Louvre or Niagara Falls virtually if we like or take a Jungle Safari.

The masked Normal

Yes, virtual, that’s what our life has become. For real is so rare, real needs to be handled with so much care. We don’t need to struggle to hide our feelings anymore for our faces are masked for real. We can’t hug, we can’t kiss, we need to maintain a 6 feet distance or our lives are at risk. Going out for a coffee or drink, taking an impulsive weekend trip are things of the past. The ‘New Normal’ that we once talked about is the ‘NORMAL’ now. Who knows whether the ‘Old Normal’ will ever return?

Yet our optimism or rather our foolhardiness knows no bound. The moment the virus shows some abating we throw all caution to air. Go out unmasked to weddings and parties, election rallies and marches, play Holi and take a dip at the holy Kumbh. Scientific arguments can’t win over idiocy and COVID-19 returns in full glory or rather in fury.

We have lost 2020 to the pandemic and now we seem to be losing 2021 to our callous attitude. Yes, we have all been locked in for too long, these restrictions have frustrated us, the virtual world is getting on our nerves, but if you want Real, get Real! Let’s not nurse any false sense of hope and optimism, only with utmost caution and care can we bring our Real world back, or at least some semblance of Real!

A piece from my childhood – gifted to Katha by Titas Mazumdar

I have very fond memories of my maternal Grandparent’s home in Krishnanagar… our summer destination every year during my school days…

The Greens

My grandparents had a big house by the Jalongi river with a lot of greenery all around… coconut, mango, guava, jackfruit, black plum, betelnuts trees to name a few… My major attraction was to climb the guava tree to get hold of the fruits, picking raw mangoes from the ground after an evening of thunderstorm and once in a while taking a dip in Jalongi along with my Dida… I often narrate these stories to my daughter who is growing in the concrete jungle of Gurgaon… these stories are like fairy tales from the land of fantasy for her…

Most of the modern housing now-a-days in new India is high risers in gated community where there is always scarcity of space… rarely we get to see individual houses surrounded by so many fruit trees in urban dwellings.

Fortunately, my husband’s ancestral home still holds the old flavour of individual housing surrounded by ample trees, though the count has drastically reduced over the years due to ever-expanding human needs. They still have preserved a lot many which was good enough for my daughter to experience a piece from my childhood…

Every year we visit this small suburb of Kolkata called Nimta for just a couple of hours to meet our extended family and due to a shortage of time never got a chance to explore the surroundings. This year we planned for a 2-days stay and guess what? It was an enriching experience for Katha my daughter which she will cherish in her later years. The entire day she was with her cousins playing around the neighbourhood like a vagabond but that was not the main attraction. My husband and his cousin planned to go fishing with Katha and it turned out to be the major attraction of the trip. They went to the nearby pond and spent hours there and finally got a huge Tilapia fish. The excitement and sparkle in her eyes were priceless. The same fish was cleaned, cut and cooked in mustard paste and served for lunch…Katha couldn’t believe she was actually eating and enjoying her own catch. Being a Bong she is also a big-time fish lover.

The next adventure was with the tress in the backyard which was full of ripen stone apple and raw mangoes. The kids were excited, and the men got up on the terrace to get the ripe fruits hanging there. The satisfaction of having a spoonful of soft yet fibrous pulp of stone apple which you just plucked after some hard work is immense. My daughter didn’t miss out on plucking the raw mangoes along with her uncle which was later grated with salt, sugar and chillies to go with the evening barbeque…

The entire experience was exhilarating, and I was happy and satisfied to give Katha her a tiny piece from my childhood… it’s all about creating memories and storing them safely to cherish later!

To all ye fools

Fooled ya

Remember how 1st April used to be such an important day when we were growing up. Not because it was the beginning of a new financial year, because it was April Fool – All Fools Day. The day we would play innocent pranks on each other – there’s a spider on your back, an insect on your head or the teacher just asked for you or you got a call from home. We were forever plotting and planning to make a fool of our friends and classmates while we were on our guard to avoid being fooled. Such careless childhood days when we could laugh at pranks, at silly jokes, more importantly, laugh at our foolish selves. I still hear the chorus ‘April Fool,’ when someone succumbed to the prank.

April Fool or the custom of setting aside a day to make a fool of others by playing harmless pranks is celebrated across the world for centuries. In Ukrainian city, Odessa April 1st is an official city holiday. Though we don’t know for sure how this custom came to being.T here’s a disputed association between April 1st and Geoffrey Chaucer‘s The Canterbury Tales (1392), a collection of 24 stories written in Middle English. In the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale”, a vain fellow Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox on Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two, that readers understood as “32 March”, that is April 1. Though modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon, 32 days after March, 2 May or the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, that happened 1381.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April’s fish”), possibly the first reference in France. Some writers suggest that April Fool dates back to the Middle Ages when New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European towns, with a holiday that in some areas of France, ended on April 1. Those who celebrated New Year’s Eve on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates and came up with April Fools’ Day. January 1 as the beginning of a New Year’s became common in France only in the mid-16th century and was adopted officially only 1564, by the Edict of Roussillon.

In 1561, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey, an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer, referred to the celebration as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”. Some even say that April Fool’s Day may go back to the Biblical times, the Genesis flood narrative – the mistake of Noah in sending the dove out of the ark before the water had abated on the first day of April.

Whatever the origin may be, we once played silly pranks and laughed at each other on April 1st. That was before we grew up to be a generation so thin-skinned and hypersensitive that any innocent comment or prank would offend us. We somehow lost our sense of humour and seemed to forget that we only make fools of our own selves. Whether we are trying to outsmart our parents by reading Robin Cook instead of practising Math for boards or hoping against hope that the cute boy will fall in love with us when he’s only interested in our notes. Years later, looking back at our exam scores, we realize what fools we have been. But we continue to fool ourselves, continue to hold on to silly dreams, we make stupid mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is all about looking back, laughing at our follies and being better for it all. The only fools are ones’ who are so pompous that they don’t even see their follies!

So, all ye fools, let’s be trivial, let’s laugh at each other and more importantly let’s laugh at our own stupid selves for that’s what makes life worth living. 

When Friday lost its zing!

Photoshopping to bring the zing back

Friday before a long weekend, that too the Holi weekend! What cheer it should bring, such excitement, so many plans. But surprisingly it feels like just another day. I drove to the neighbourhood market in the morning, and everything looked so usual that I almost forgot Holi’s round the corner. With a ban on playing Holi in public places owing to the surging numbers of COVID cases again, the sale of gulal is on a low. As I was driving back, the anchor in one of the FM channels while talking about a new movie casually mentioned how Friday movie releases are not such a great affair anymore. Queuing up before a movie hall to catch the first show of a much-awaited film was such a big deal once. With the pandemic, lockdown and theatres remaining shut for months, I haven’t watched a movie on the big screen for over a year now.

Fridays when I would hum to work, try to wrap up the tasks at hand as soon as I could and then catch a movie or go for a drink or just head home and watch TV till late thinking happily about the weekend ahead, is a distant memory now. With work from home kicking in post-COVID, Fridays have lost their zing and weekends their charm. The phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ doesn’t ring true anymore. Work spills over to late evenings and weekends and holidays as well. “You are home after all”, is the attitude. Though I am not an advocate of going back to the ‘old normal’ when we would brave the traffic for hours to reach office on time, I do feel work from home needs boundaries. Personal time and space need to be respected.

Work from home has taken some sting off Mondays too. Monday morning blues are not so gloomy anymore, could be because we are forever checking our emails, attending calls even on weekends. Nothing feels special about any day, one day just tumbles busily, sometimes lazily into another. Be it the sting or the zing it’s spread evenly across all days. Each day looks so alike that at times I almost forget which day of the week it is.

Maybe I am just bored, maybe it’s the curbs, maybe it’s me still trying to make sense of things. Whatever it may be, Friday for sure has lost its zing!

Tracking the time with Sun, Moon and Stars

I was born on a Monday on the 6th day of the Bengali month Kartik and 23rd day of the English month October. Somehow 6th Kartik and 23rd October have rarely coincided since then. As we follow the English calendar or the Georgian calendar 23rd October is my birthday, I don’t even know when 6th Kartik comes and goes. My mom who keeps a track of Bengali dates sometimes casually mentions “Oh, today’s 6th Kartik, your birthday.” So long it never bothered me why the Bengali and the English dates didn’t match.

Even our festivals never fall on the same dates. I was born on the day after Lokhhi pujo (Kojagori Lokkhi who is worshipped a week after Dashami or Dussehra). Since then, my birthday every year coincides with either Durga Puja, Dussehra, Diwali or comes very close to one of these festivals. In fact, our festivals don’t fall on the same dates every year even in the Bengali or Hindu calendar. That is because we track time as per movements of the sun, moon and the stars. These religious festivals take place only when the stars are aligned in their right planetary position. We Bongs refer to Panjika or the Hindu Almanac for the same.

Panjika or Panji is the Hindu astronomical almanac published in Bengali, Odia, Maithili and Assamese. Called Panchangam in other parts on India, it is published annually and is a handy reference to determine the most auspicious times for our rituals, festivals, celebrations, marriages etc. Panjika also records Muslim, Christian and other festivals, dates of birth and deaths of many leading personalities and carries informative articles on astrology. Panjika applies 2 methods for calculation of planetary positions – Surya Siddhanta and Bisuddha Siddhanta.

To understand the discrepancies in dates in different calendars, it is important to understand how we track time. Our forefathers observed the movements of sun, moon and other planetary bodies for timekeeping. The Georgian calendar, that is now followed world over, is based on the movement of the earth around the sun. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a minor modification of the Julian calendar, reducing the average year from 364.25 days to 364.2425 days. Therefore, every 4th year is the leap year.

Many religions and cultures, like the Islamic culture and Asian countries like China, Hong Kong and Vietnam, follow the lunar calendar. A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon’s phases. Since each lunation is approximately ​29 12 days (29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, 3 seconds, or 29.530588 days), the months of a lunar calendar usually alternate between 29 and 30 days. A lunar year is only 354 days, 8 hours, 48 minutes, 34 seconds (354.367056 days), hence purely lunar calendars lose around 11 to 12 days per year relative to the Gregorian calendar. 


The Vedic culture developed a sophisticated timekeeping methodology and calendars for Vedic rituals. Timekeeping was about tracking the nature of solar and lunar movements and other planetary bodies. Timekeeping was important to Vedic rituals, and Jyotisha or astrology tracked and predicted the movements of astronomical bodies in order to keep time and fix the date and time of different rituals.

The Hindu calendar that was derived from the Vedic tradition is lunisolar calendar, traditionally used in the Indian subcontinent and South-east Asia, with further regional variations for social and religious purposes. The calendar adopts a similar underlying concept for timekeeping based on the solar cycle and adjustment of lunar cycles every three years. Unlike the Gregorian calendar which adds additional days to the lunar month to adjust the mismatch between twelve lunar cycles (354 lunar days) and nearly 365 solar days, the Hindu calendar maintains the integrity of the lunar month, but inserts an extra full month by complex rules, once every 32–33 months, to ensure that the festivals and crop-related rituals fall in the appropriate season.

There’s also an argument about the accuracy about the different methods of timekeeping. While the Georgian calendar being easier to follow is widely accepted, some believe that the Lunisolar calendar could be more accurate. But, accuracy, I feel, is a matter of perspective. Different calendars follow different methods of timekeeping, hence the discrepancies. It doesn’t make one right and the other wrong. Though it’s easy to think of time as linear and calendar as scientific given, these different calendars show us that time is anything but linear. It’s relative, keeping time is complicated. Modern timekeeping devices that accurately measure time even to the fraction of a second, have been invented to give us the impression that we are in control while time is slipping away!

The play of hope & despair: lockdown musings…

I don’t usually give in to despair. I take pride in being an out and out optimist who bounces back in no time from any challenging or desperate situation, be it professional or personal. But when I rarely do despair it sinks in very deep, leaving me incapacitated emotionally, making every day feel like drudgery. The lockdown due to COVID-19 was one such rare occasion. For almost a month I felt as if my world would collapse, at times I felt I would break down. There were times at night when I would wake up, gripped by anxiety for the well-being of my loved ones, an odd fear that I may die all alone. One night I woke up startled by the sound of an aeroplane, a warplane I thought, that would drop a bomb and roof would collapse over me. The fear froze me for a few minutes. Maybe there was no plane, maybe it was just one of those special aeroplanes, can’t say for sure!

Past few months have been difficult, the lockdown has been hard on most of us. For me, staying alone, I was suddenly hit by a feeling of complete isolation. It’s not that I have a thriving social life, or even miss not having one. I am selectively social at best, catching up with a close friend over a coffee or beer after work or on the weekends. Many weekends I happily spent with myself – reading, writing, cooking, watching something, or just doing nothing. But once locked in, I started missing the routine. I missed going to the office every day and greeting my colleagues. I missed my infrequent evening outings terribly. Though I have been working from home, virtual meetings and phone calls were an everyday affair, it didn’t feel the same. I would talk to my friends and family every day, sometimes on video, but I so missed the human touch. 

And the fact that I am somewhat of a perfectionist, trying to keep my house spick and span while meeting all the deadlines at work, only made things worse. I would jump off the bed every morning, rush through chores like sweeping, mopping and dusting, open my laptop by 9 a.m., for somehow with work from home the deadlines only got steeper. I would be completely drained by the end of the day, often surviving on Maggie.

One evening the sinking feeling gripped me so hard that I called my cousin who happens to be a psychiatrist. A long chat with her, friendly, sisterly, sometimes her professional tone helped. I decided to let go, I decided to focus on the positives. House could be messy, it’s ok if start work at 9:30, I told myself. I would spend hours in the balcony gazing at the stars or my little flowers. Nature that healed since the lockdown, helped me heal. The promise of a special someone that he would be with me moment the flights resumed gave me hope. 

But when the time came for him to arrive, he let me down. I was stunned, the sudden turn of events left me numb. I was afraid that I would sink to despair again, but surprisingly, I held my own. I went on with my days as usual, feeling less isolated as the restrictions eased. Despite my heartbreak and some moments when I would feel miserable (still do at times), I managed to look ahead with optimism and hope. My emotions found expressions in Lockdown Songs – a few poems that I penned. Cliched as it may sound, I chose to believe the boomerang theory – whatever’s mine will come back to me if it doesn’t, it never was. 

And it did come back, I don’t know for how long, but I decided to hold on to hope, on matter what. Or maybe, I finally realized, only I can make me happy!