Spectator by Seema Goswami: Life is for living
So, finally, after many months of breathless anticipation, one of my fantasies came true. I finally managed to meet my girlfriends – in person, no less! – for coffee. (What did you think I was on about? Honestly, get your mind out of the…well, never mind!)
All three of us had been double jabbed, the requisite waiting period for immunity to kick in was over (during which one of us had even had a mild case of Covid), and we had been adhering to social distancing norms like our lives depended on it (spoiler alert: they did). So, as the case load in Delhi fell to under 200 daily cases and the positivity rate went below 1 per cent, we decided that it was time we threw caution – and our masks – to the wind and finally met up for a cup of coffee.
That said, we were still wary enough not to risk congregating in a public place full of unmasked strangers. So, we opted to meet at the home of one of us, sitting in an airy, well-ventilated room, which looked out on a verdant lawn, exchanging elbow bumps rather than hugs as a concession to the virus. In the event, it was too hot a morning for coffee, so all three of us chose to have nimbu pani instead, loaded with lots of ice and a divine hint of kala namak.
And as we quaffed our drinks and exchanged gossip, often talking over one another in our excitement to finally be together, it finally felt that life was returning to normal – or, at least, to a semblance of normalcy.
Don’t get me wrong. We had been Zooming one another regularly all through the pandemic so it wasn’t as if we had lost touch. But there was something truly special to finally see each other in the flesh, to comment on how good someone’s hair was looking, how perfect the other’s outfit was, and how much I loved the new nail polish they had experimented with during the lockdown.
So, there we sat, goofy smiles on all our faces, feeling giddy with pleasure at being able to properly connect with one another at last. And when we said goodbye a couple of hours later, it was with tight hugs, the elbow bumps having been retired in an unspoken consensus.
I felt so good after this close encounter, that I was emboldened to plan another: this time a dinner at the home of one of our closest friends. It would be just the four of us – all of us double jabbed – and we would catch up over a few bottles of wine and maybe the odd glass of champagne. And so, for the first time ever since Covid struck, we sat down to dinner at a table with another couple, to feast on roast lamb, salad, quiche, and some delicious conversation.
It really felt as if a dam had burst, as all the stuff that had been festering deep within us came bubbling to the surface. We discussed everything under the sun: the state of the economy; the travels we had undertaken over the last few months; how their daughter was missing out on the teenage experience having been stuck at home for more than a year; the books we had read and written; and so much more.
It felt so amazing to just sit down and talk. And talk to people that we could actually see, whose expressions we could react to in real time, instead of images on a screen whose visual cues were often impossible to pick up on. So novel was this feeling after a year and a half of isolation that we stayed up way later than we should have, exchanging gossip, reminiscing about past times, and storing up memories for the future.
As my husband and I drove back home that night, we promised ourselves that this would not be a one-off. We would be rejoining the world of the living, Coronavirus be damned. And, if you ask me, it’s not a moment too soon.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, July 11, 2021
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