It’s almost sundown and I’m writing this from my usual perch–a little window ledge in my son’s room. We’re on a high floor, so I have a bird’s eye view, so to speak. They’re building a new MRT (subway) line down below. Yellow hard hats skitter around. I watch the excavators at work in amazement. They look like elegant robotic giraffes. New barriers are erected every day, roads are blocked and unblocked for traffic–which continues like normal,
while India, my birth country, continues to burn. I lost a friend to Co-vid19 last week. My dear mother-in-law is under intensive care at the hospital, fighting the ravages of this deadly virus. My husband is in India, in the trenches, tending to his parents, while getting exposed to the virus every single day. Most of this month, we’ve had to beg on social media and scour our contacts for a bed, then for medicines for my mother-in-law.
The difference between lives here and there is jarring.
Here, my kids go to physical school. Every weekday morning, after my daughter gets on the school bus, I drop my toddler off to nursery. Every day we take a new diversion to school because of all the construction going on around us. There are new make-shift walkways for pedestrians and at every blind spot, a board for the cyclists saying “Dismount and Push.”
We come across at least a dozen such boards, and it’s practically like a chant in my head at this point. Dismountandpushdismountandpushdismountandpush.
I get home and enjoy a few moments of quiet. I sip my coffee and watch the road below from the window. I force myself to pay attention to all that’s happening below–to the shock of green as a flock of parrots flies past, designs and colors on umbrellas when it rains, the outdoor yoga class–everything, anything to keep me rooted in this moment, to keep my mind off the turmoil inside me.
Soon, India will wake up. Every ping of a received WhatsApp message makes me jumpy. I get on social media dreading the news that will make its way to me today, so much that sometimes my fingers tremble.
Most days my brain feels foggy, depressed, tired. But I go through the motions. I cook, I clean, bathe my kids, read them bedtime stories. I feel exhaustion to my bones. There’s neither time nor the motivation to read or write. By the time my head hits the pillow, sleep is already sweeping me off my feet. I used to be very particular about my kids’ meals, but now we order pizza, we eat pancakes or cereal for dinner, I let them watch a lot of TV, and sometimes I hide in the bathroom and cry.
Tomorrow will be another day. India is still in darkness–it’ll probably be a long time before we see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I’m not in control of what’s happening or what will happen, but until I get away from that blind spot and into the light, all I can do is dismount and push through.
One day at a time, one moment at a time.
This just in – Singapore just announced a lockdown as I edit this piece. We’re back to home-based learning starting next week. We’ve enjoyed many months of normalcy compared to the rest of the world, but nevertheless, it’s going to be tough. More blind spots, more dismounting and pushing, and hoping this phase doesn’t last long.
Oh, Hema. I am so sorry for what you’re experiencing but as usual, this piece contains such hope and heart. Selfishly, I’m glad you were able to write it so I could read your beautiful writing again. I think about you and your family a lot and pray that things get better for you.
Thank you, Michelle! I’m so glad I have you to talk to. 💗
I can’t even begin to imagine how challenging this is for you, Hema. This piece is beautiful, as always, and an incredible testament to a horrific experience. Sending you and your family lots of love <3
Thank you for your good wishes, dear Ana!
April and May saw me doing the same thing – worrying and stressing. Hubby had to be hospitalised and the virus was like the demon, haunting us day and night. Now that he is fine and life is getting back to normal, I am grateful that it all got over so soon. But I wonder how it must be for the countless out there who haven’t had such a happy end to their story.
When will this end!
I pray for you and your family. <3