Humour: The five kinds of lockdown days
We’re now deep into the Age of Lockdown, and if we’ve made this far with relative luck, we’ve also more or less adjusted to the situation. But ‘adjustment’ is a flighty bird. It flutters and frets, leaving you calm one minute and clammy the next. Here’s a snapshot of the different kinds of lockdown days – your starter list for a far longer and more customised compilation.
The eureka day
We’re living under laboratory conditions, and the experiment sometimes yields transcendent bliss. A-ha moments that offer us a glimpse of life, the universe and everything in one fleeting moment. They make you rise above the petty theatre of everyday life to a higher realm of detachment. You decide to counter slurs with smiles, provocation with politeness. You even decide to return to a long-abandoned artistic pursuit, like singing harmonies or knitting tea cosies. Music flows out of taps and holy smoke from kettles. You’re Julia Roberts in the Pray section of Eat, Pray, Love, or Aamir Khan in Three Idiots. Warning: you’re floating so high, you might give yourself altitude sickness.
The carpe diem day
I fear these more than I fear an elaichi in a biryani. Somewhere between the waking of the sun and of the birds, it strikes. A gong that sounds in your head and springboards you out of bed. You’re buzzing before you’ve sipped caffeine, motivated before yoga. You finish your morning chores and get to your laptop before the clock strikes 8. By noon you’ve caught up with all work mails, made lunch and cleaned the loft you haven’t peeped into since the week you moved into the flat five years ago. By teatime, you’ve ironed all your clothes, written a poem and called your mother. Everything’s done and it’s still daylight. By bedtime, you’ve regaled all WhatsApp groups, bleached all your discoloured clothes and finished the remaining 150 pages of an Orhan Pamuk novel. Scary.
The day that looks like every other lockdown day. Like in the Bill Murray film, you realise you’re stuck in a time warp, doing the same thing over and over again – a rat in a wheel or a sitcom in its seventh season. Everyone around you seems to be okay with the way things are, prompting you to question your own sanity. The term déjà vu reveals its sinister qualities to you, making you wonder about rebirth and eternal recurrence. But you’re too tired to philosophise. And too scared to talk about it. So it’s yet another chai, and yet another brain-melting Zoom call followed by yet another rerun of Friends. You pick up the phone and see 118 unread messages and somehow can guess what each one of them says. I wish you a speedy escape!
The lost day
A kind of day that wakes up scowling and goes to bed howling. From burnt toast to stubbed toes, your cupful of woes runneth over. Meltdowns and mishaps, rage and regret, it’s like the mixed tape from hell. You try to plug a hole and end up drowning. At some point, you make a frantic call to a kindred spirit, but they’re so busy waiting for their sourdough bread to rise, you fake a laugh and say you’ll call later. You reach for the fridge for solace, but leave the door open; two hours later, the entire house smells of fried fish and deep remorse. As you google refrigerator fixes, you realise the mosquito net has a mouse-shaped hole in it, not far from where the resident lizard lounges. You give up on the day and give yourself over to Animal Planet.
The pseudo-normal day
The kind of day that begins on time, does what it’s told and ends without drama. It’s filled with light exercise, engaging work, happy diversions and cheering food. You look out of the window and see empty streets, but they don’t fill you with dread. The rotis you roll turn out almost circular. You’ve managed to outwit the mouse that had occupied your brain, and you’re enveloped by a general sense of well-being despite everything.Your hair’s a mess, but look at the economy. The world is absurd, but did you expect otherwise? And there’s the salesman at the grocery store reminding you to do the little things well with his masked smile.
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From HT Brunch, June 7, 2020
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