Covid-19 has put a spanner in the world’s works. Within weeks, the way we transact, live, work, interact and communicate has changed. The bustle of the marketplace has been replaced by a paranoid, mask-laden quiet. The buzz of office complexes is replaced by a restless silence. The sounds of children’s laughter and vegetable vendors calling out in residential neighbourhoods have been replaced by the song of birds and the lazy bark of listless strays.
While the adults worry about their livelihoods and mourn their loss of freedom and socialisation, a quiet rejoicing is happening among some. There are living beings who are enjoying this, even thriving.
Our human offspring, our animal pets, our plants.
They are savouring every moment of the lockdown, the economic disaster and the medical pandemic that has caged us all in our homes.
Unconcerned about the lives affected and tragically lost around the world, they can only see what’s right in front of them. And what’s in front of them is their whole world.
Their moms and dads are with them. Their caregivers are with them. Their soul-mates are with them. Their world is complete. Virus? What virus? The unexpected presence of their beloveds in the middle of the day is a gift from the gods, they could just die with happiness.
They languor, croon, delight in the touch and hugs and belly rubs. They bloom with flowers and laughs of pure ecstasy. They sleep happily in the middle of the room, knowing their lovers are watching them, knowing that they are adored and cherished, and what greater heaven than this?
Even the bigger babies are not immune to this sudden avalanche of good fortune. My children are grownups, but they are still my babies. One of them insists that both parents do yoga with her each morning as she wants to lose weight during the lockdown, but in truth, as she sits with her eyes closed in meditation between the two of us, one can see all too clearly her innocently insidious goal and her success in achieving it – our undivided attention.
The other one, who has returned from ten thousand miles away before the lockdown began, is in a state of bliss too. “Was it worth it,” I ask her with all my adult exasperation. “Shouldn’t you have just stayed there? Was it worth paying three times the price, abandoning all your possessions behind in a panic, leaving college just before the final exams, traveling on a 16-hour flight only to be stuck in an airport for another 11 hours with thousands of strangers, and now being self-quarantined in your room for 14 days when we can’t even hug you? Was it worth it?”
“Yes,” she replies, simply, through the closed door.
The journey may have been arduous but what makes it all worth it is that one potent, emotionally charged word: home.
And it’s not the walls or the address that makes it so. It is the living beings in it. The humans, the old dog who grows younger every minute that you cuddle her, the plants that are thriving like never before. Home is in your cells, your DNA.
The virus has devastated the structure of human existence, the systems we made, the communities we built, the highways of our ambition.
But the babies are smiling.
Photos: Unsplash. First published in eShe’s April 2020 issue