When lockdown is over, will call my friends and hug them tight: Jharna Mandowara
Mumbai has been one of the most affected urban centres in the country, with 28,817 cases till date.Updated: May 24, 2020 00:33 IST
Jharna Mandowara, 15, lives in a high-rise apartment in Kandivli in suburban Mumbai with her parents and 18-year-old sister. She hasn’t stepped out of the house since March 22 because of the lockdown. But the Sars-Cov-2 virus and its effect hit home nine days ago, when a neighbour three floors below them tested positive for Covid-19 and the building was partially sealed.
Mumbai has been one of the most affected urban centres in the country, with 28,817 cases till date.
“It was really frightening. We aren’t going out, but dad has been going to the shops regularly to buy essentials. What if something happens to him?” Mandowara says.
“Before this, I spent my days studying and playing a lot of sports, meeting my friends. I’m an extrovert and in normal times, keeping me at home was a task for my parents. Now I have no option. And to think someone was infected right here below us, makes me very anxious. But I am learning to act like a grown-up and not give in to the anxiety.”
She says she has had to grow up all at once in the past two months.
Mandowara and her sister Mitanshi have an action plan to keep themselves active. When the lockdown began, their father, who works in film marketing and distribution, suggested that they each keep a diary.
“Mitanshi doesn’t maintain one daily because she says she doesn’t know what to write. But I write in it every day – my to-do list for the next day, some inspiring quotes. I also paint to keep myself occupied,” Mandowara says.
Online classes and homework take up a large part of the day. The girls also exercise every day with their father, a fun workout of aerobics and kickboxing.
“I’m thankful I was born at a time when video-calling is easily accessible,” Mandowara said. “I do a video call with my group of friends every day for an hour.” “Ot goes on for hours,” her sister interrupts to say. “It’s not the same but I’m privileged to be able to do even that, so I guess it’s all right,” Mandowara adds.
The one thing she misses and can find no substitute for is sports. “It’s almost like physical pain. Four of us used to play tennis together; my sister and I used to take classes. Suddenly everything stopped.”
Her sister is her biggest source of support right now, Mandowara says. “We watch shows together, she lends me books and most importantly, when our parents become overbearing, we take refuge in each others’ company. She wanted to cut my hair too, but I won’t allow her anywhere near me with scissors!”
It’s been a time of new lessons, Mandowara says. “I have realised how hard my mom works to manage the house and feed us. I was too busy with my life to help out before; now I try to lessen her load. Even if it’s just simple chores like folding the clean laundry.”
So what’s the first thing she’ll do when things get back to normal? “Get out of the house, doesn’t matter where,” Mandowara says. “I will call my friends down from their homes and hug them tight, very tight.”