YOU ARE SAFE!

PROMPT: She opened the library book and found a photo in it…
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(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

She opened the library book and found a photo in it. She felt dizzy seeing a photograph of her, smooching her boyfriend while they’re in the library, last Saturday.

She panicked thinking who could’ve captured that image. The photograph fell down from her shaking hands, and she noticed something is written on the back of the photograph…

 

MY DAUGHTER, IF I COULD CAPTURE THIS, THEN ANYONE ELSE COULD’VE DONE IT TO BLACKMAIL AND HARASS YOU. DO EVERYTHING WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS AND WITHIN THE SAFE ZONE OF LIFE. I’VE ADDRESSED YOU AS MY DAUGHTER, SO DON’T PANIC, TRUST ME… YOU ARE SAFE!

It wasn’t difficult for Anjali to understand that he’s the old smiling uncle, the manager of the library who always tells her lovingly, “you’re like my daughter“. Her heart filled with gratitude and respect for him, who protected her even when he’s just a stranger.

A SURPRISED MOM

PROMPT: She looked at the mirror and did not like what she saw…
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(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

She looked at the mirror and did not like what she saw. Her face had a haggard look, roots of hair showing white. Crows feet beginning to develop near her eyes. When did this happen? When did she let go of herself?

Mummy can’t find my physics book“, the call brought her out of her thoughts. “Mumma I am hungry…” said the second one she smiled. Pulled her hair in a messy bun rushing off to look for the book and make breakfast…
Surprise!!!” Her hubby and sons shouted in unison… “Breakfast is ready for the queen of the house.” The elder son gave an exaggerated bow.  “Happy mother’s day Mom“, pecked the younger one on her cheek while her husband was just smiling at her.
Sitting in the spa later, she wondered that she had not let go of herself she had spent the time in building a family.

UNLOCKING IN LOCKDOWN

We all felt a blow when the lockdown was announced due to COVID-19 and now it’s been more than one month. We have been staying in the comfort zones of our homes, not visiting any place, not meeting anyone and doing all the chores mostly be ourselves and our family members are sharing the load. Unimaginable, unfeasible, undoable and unthinkable it used to sound earlier, yet we did all the paradoxical tasks and managed well.

One of the most difficult tasks was how to keep our kids busy. Many of the children were already attending online classes. But, for my sons, it was vacation time after their sessions got over (in our state, the new session starts in June). My younger one, not even once, asked to take him out of the house, as he is occupied in playing and fighting with his elder brother. Though my elder son was perturbed initially, he resorted to various activities and while doing so he found a couple of new interests like Domino Art, trick shots and the magical world of Harry Potter. His creative side is booming and all thanks to this lockdown. 

Meanwhile, in the other part of the country, my parents who are away from their home, since 10th March, want to go back to their place. Though they are in my aunt’s home, safe and secure, without facing any difficulties, they still want to go back to their own house. My brother and I need to counsel them constantly, as travelling at this time is highly risky. 

Amidst this lockdown are the people who have suddenly started exploring their artistic side or unlocking their right brains. Many have become cooking champs, trying new dishes every day, in order to fulfill their gastronome craving. Trust me, even I have never ever cooked continuously- this much and for this long (and with this much fondness). Phew! I have become a maven. Most of our group chats on WhatsApp have someone or the other posting a picture of a delicacy every day. 

My brother, who hardly held a paintbrush in his life, is painting beautiful sunset scenes on canvas. My husband turned a hair stylist by trimming our sons’ hair and giving the two ‘wolverine’ lines like Virat Kohli used to have.

I feel we have literally evolved in this lockdown. Our perspectives have changed and we have a learning for life. We are living without the things that we considered as necessities. So, we all deserve a pat on our backs for handling this pandemic emotionally and physically as well. Stay happy and stay safe.

STAY CALM, STAY SANE

We all have been witnessing this global threat called Corona since last three weeks. We are now well versed about Do’s & Don’ts about how to stay safe. There is lot of material that is shared on social media, television and other mediums about how to self quarantine, how to wash and sanitize hands, how to plan your life essentials etc etc. But one thing that I realised is missing is the focus on mental health. Keeping up the mental health during this tough time is as important as taking care of physical health.

Someone has said it right, you attract what you think. With so much details of death & infected toll, it is quite easy to feel depressed, worried and scared. One negative emotion leads to another and the chain continues. So how do we remain positive? While many could be having great plans of things to do during this time, I urge you all to take 10 mins from your day to focus on your mental health. This will not only help you in this time of test but it will help you through out your life span.

I am sharing a few things which I practice to improve my mental health. Like I said, it helps me immensely during the time of pressure at work, or any tension coming on the personal front.

1. Prayers: I believe that prayers have immense power. Pray to the God. One simple rule that I follow for prayers is to ask for the ability to be able to come over the difficulties rather than asking the end result. It is better to ask God to build and empower ourselves and let the God be the navigator or facilitator.

2. Meditation: This helps me a lot especially when I am unable to concentrate out of tension or when it seems to be a dead end and I don’t seem to find answers to the nasty questions life throws at me. 

3. Stay away from negative: This is a very important step. Just cut off yourself from negative news, negative places and negative people. I have totally cut out on checking news related to Corona, reading messages regarding it, keeping updated with death toll or even reading the so called funny forward messages related to it. Come one, by now we all know and understand what needs to be done so what is the point in catching up on news showing policemen beating the rule breakers or counting which state or the country is ranking highest in death or infection toll.

4. No discussion: I always follow that I talk less and act more. Well, I am talkative by nature and can carry out candid discussions very well with a toddler or a senior Citizen alike but when it comes to making way out of a problem I go on a mute mode. I speak less and act more. This saves your time and energy which you can put to better use than just discussing about how unfair it is to happen what really happened.

So friends, I hope I drew your attention to taking care of your mental health as well. Do take it seriously. Follow any method that suits you. Do share what you follow, I would like to learn from you and your experience.

Until then,stay calm and stay safe. Think positive and be positive.

ONLINE CLASSES DURING THE TIME OF LOCKDOWN

Since the time my second child was born I used keep saying that there will be a year  when both my children will give board exams one will be in 10th and the other will be in 12th.. if you are aware of the Indian education system I am sure you will understand what kind of pressure a parent will feel. I used to say that this year would be very difficult one for me.. And as they say what vibes you send out to the universe.. The universe strives to bring it to you…

So here we step into the new academic year in the first week of March.. books bought, tuition in place and school starts in full swing…

But we didn’t know the actual meaning of difficult till we reached mid March.. schools shut down indefinitely.. Offices declared work from home and then came the total lock down.. yes the dreaded Covid19 was here. The complete effect of this virus on our life is still not known. How it is going to change the normal life and what will be the new normal after the pandemic. I am just targeting one aspect that changed on our lives..

The schools waited for a week or so and then decided to move to online classes. Suddenly the names like zoom, google hangouts, Google meet etc became the new buzz words in every household.

People talked about rationing supplies we started by rationing the WiFi too. See I am working from home, my husband has a business which anyways he manages from home, both my children have online classes for 5-6 hours everyday and then way down the priority line are my in-laws who need their basic dose of WhatsApp and YouTube etc.. one laptop and one desktop and 5 mobiles all trying to milk as much as possible from the WiFi router..

Then comes the actual classes. My heart goes out to the teachers. Poor things most of them are not tech-savvy. And they have been thrown into uncharted territories because of this lockdown. After a brief online training they have been asked to conduct online classes for children studying in 10th and 12th.. And these children are anytime more tech savvy and inquisitive to know new things . I have seen the boys looking for new ways of troubling the teachers. On day one innocently the teacher gave admin rights to all students. Children didn’t put their mics on mute so there are random talks in between the class. Then children realized that they could scribble random things on the screen and teacher  doesn’t come to know who has done it.. The teacher who was in complete control of her class in school is now at her wits end.. finally admin rights revoked and mics put on mute etc.. Random cases of students playing music in the zoom class happened.. yes they were doing all this just for the fun of it as they were discovering new features of the app.

Teachers are recruiting their family members or friends who know these apps. They are in the class only to maintain the virtual discipline and not allow any student to take advantage of all the features available.

There are a few teachers who know this new area well like the computer teacher who is using Github where the children upload their Java code and she can execute the program and check it for errors etc. And she is also using Discord for her online classes. I had seen children using discord only for online gaming and chatting till now.

Students are also overloaded with these classes not only does the school have online teaching after that the tuition and coaching centers have their own lectures online. My son entered the tuition class of his friend today to make mischief as his friend was getting bored. I am not too proud of it and I gave a piece of my mind to him today hopefully he does not repeat it. But I am still surprised and by the ingenuity of his approach. The virtual classroom was locked(yes apparently you can do it). So to get in first he told his  friend to leave the class and then ask the teacher to unlock so he can enter. Once the class was unlocked both of them entered. The teacher is teaching and he started his own screen sharing where the other kids also started scribbling #no studies etc. Every one is laughing and the teacher is frantic. Eventually he caught this stowaway and kicked him out. So now he can’t enter the classroom room as he has been kicked out. My son and his friends are working on a way out of this predicament too.

‌The teachers have to be on their toes. They have to upgrade their online skills. Remember these children will always be one step ahead. Here’s wishing more strength to the teachers to handle their virtual classrooms.

‌As my son pointed out today to me that it’s a cruel world out there and only the fittest survive.

But I am sure the teachers will cross this little hurdle soon. And someone somewhere is already listing out the online class etiquette and tips and tricks to master these virtual meeting apps.

 

LOCKED DOWN IN LOCKDOWN

Towards the end of February, we finalized the Candyland theme for our younger son Abir’s birthday, who was turning 4 on 18th March, due to his unconditional and interminable love for chocolates, candies, lollipops and everything that’s sweet!

Birthday gifts, return gifts, décor as per the theme, everything was procured, but it was only that we were not able to decide on the date for the party basically because my husband was in Dubai and COVID-19 was gradually spreading and hence wanted to postpone it to 14 days after his return on 17th March. I wasn’t agreeing for post celebration because I felt that would be too late and just like everyone else, I never imagined that COVID-19 would be declared a pandemic. I was convinced only when the first case of coronavirus was registered in our city. 

Even when Holi celebrations were getting cancelled, I didn’t have the slightest thought that the situation would turn so grim. Even before the official home quarantine orders came, my husband had already decided to go into self-isolation after his return and we all, including kids, followed suit. Convincing my elder son, Arjun, was a big challenge. With schools getting closed and exams being cancelled, his outdoor play was the only thing that kept him busy. The thought of staying inside the house for 14 days was a big challenge for him to accept. However, I made him understand that it was required for every person who comes from a foreign country. For my ease, I got him books and toys for his entertainment for two weeks. 

Things had turned worse by the day my husband was returning from Dubai. Incoming flights from many foreign countries were getting cancelled. Owing to the increasing precautionary measures, my husband decided to stay in a separate room and we strictly started our safety regime. Kids were not allowed to enter his room, although they badly wanted to give him a big hug. It was Abir’s birthday and we planned a small surprise for him by decorating a corner and placing all his gifts there. He was excited, but he wasn’t ready to believe that it was his birthday because for him, birthday meant a party with his friends around him. However, we managed to persuade him that we will have a big party afterwards.

It’s so good to be home” quote came true for us when the next day, all the foreign flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Being thankful to God was the only thing that I was doing every now and then. 

After a couple of days came in the ‘Janta Curfew’ and then finally the Lockdown. Shoddier times had started, I felt. In the middle of the night, I used to get up to check the number of COVID-19 cases. 

It should not touch 100”, I thought.

It should be within 500”, I prayed.

It shouldn’t cross 1000”, I dreaded.

I started having dreadful dreams and panic attacks. 

Stop watching and reading news and ignore messages on social media”, my husband suggested.

With the responsibility of the whole house work and KIDS, I was trying to manage everything alone, but all this stress made me weak. I immediately stopped visiting news sites, ignored forwarded messages and switched to praying and meditation, which really worked for me. 

As I wrote this article, I asked Arjun also to write about his feelings, who’s very upset as our summer vacation trip to grandparents got cancelled.

Our mandatory self-isolation is over now, but we have to continue our quarantine as per the government guidelines. Things are better as my kids can now play with their dad and I have got a helping hand too! We are enjoying our family time by playing Scrabble, Carom, indoor Cricket and watching comedy shows and movies. 

We all are going through a terrible phase. Neither we, nor our older generations have ever witnessed such a lockdown due to a pandemic or any other reason. But then, this too shall pass. Keep the faith!

OUR NATION IS A FAMILY

As the COVID-19 pandemic broke-out in India, 22nd March 2020, 7:00 A.M – 9:00 P.M was declared as National Curfew and in response to it, away from home alone, I locked myself in my flat in Kolkata. On Monday, the 23rd March 2020, when I reached office the first question everyone asked me – “Have you not gone home? Today, 5:00 P.M Kolkata will lockdown till 31st March 2020, how will you survive?” At the last hour, I took the last flight to home and left Kolkata just 30 minutes prior to the city went for the lockdown. While in those few short n’ rush hours of leaving the city, all that was running in my mind was – “How to reach home?” The only prayer my mind was repeating alongside sorting all works is – “God, please help me to reach home safely”. And as I reached home at 10:30 P.M, there was a calm and happy feeling in me. Physically I was too tired yet the heart was joyful and relaxed.

Well, the story narration is enough to prove the proclivity of every human heart. The human heart yearns to dwell in its safest place since there alone he puts his confidence and he finds his joy. It reminds me of what the Bible says,

“Two are better than one because if either of them falls down, one can help the other up.

Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three is not quickly broken.”

Well, in the presence of more than two in the family there is the possibility of difference of opinions which later causes a bit of bitterness. But there’s a blessing that comes within the bitterness. Since caring is the intention of everyone at the end of a little bitterness the love is reflected. That’s exactly what we experience in the daily affairs of our families. At times, the end differs due to the overpowering of intolerance in our relationships. So, the Father of our Nation, Gandhiji rightly said,

“Anger and Intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”.

Being the citizens of one nation we are one family and now, we see the replica of our above discussion. When the entire nation is asked to “Stay home – Stay safe” on contrary we find the result of our flawed understanding in the streets – we have fed our intolerance and anger causing the virus to spread more.

In response to it, in the Bible, it is written,

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people – for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Let’s rely on God and rely also on those who are in authority as appointed by God. Prayer, Petitions and Preparations are what I can learn myself during this period of lockdown and also can suggest these for all others going through this article.