I have the numbers burned into my eyes. I can't forget them. When in quarantine, all I can see are the numbers going up, going down. I keep looking for them across every row. Even when I sleep, I can see them behind closed eyes. I had no idea I would be this anxious to hear the next number announced.
I'm not talking about the number of people infected by the coronavirus, not even those who recovered, not even the ones who died. I'm talking about those numbers that have suddenly gripped us as a family, a society, a nation.
Your place or mine? 69.
Dil ka chor. 44.
Watch your son at 21.
Buy 2, get 1 free. Only number 3.
How many times in a day can a woman be let down in the last minute? If the game master had announced 36 instead of 37, I'd have got at least one Jaldi 5. But let that be.
The last time my family got together like this was when dadaji passed away. Two weddings got cancelled in our family because the poor children (my two nieces) were stuck in the US and didn't get their entry to India approved. But nobody shed a tear. Bloody wedding venue that cost six and half lakh rupees per day didn't refund our deposit also. But was anyone sad? No. No. We are not that kind of family.
But today, after so many days, 54 of us in the extended family, right from the high-schoolers to my cousin's Android-savvy in-laws got together for- wait for it- Tambola.
That maha-purush who built that app must be minting money for showing us ads. But we wait patiently for 30 seconds as we're shown some rip-off version of Farmville and Candy Crush, so we can go back to "Husbands get naughty at 4 and 0 forty."
One brief glance at my husband, and I'm certain that he's too lazy to get naughty at his age- quarantine or not, more free time or not.
I can't believe that boredom can bring a family together more than tragedy or celebration. I mean, for real. This is happening exactly the way I'm describing it. Mass boredom is what brings families together.
Subscription-based apps are giving away books for free, the ads on my music streaming app are offering multi-user pro options, my long-dead gym membership has suddenly grabbed attention because they're offering Zumba on Zoom calls.
So much time, so much we can do. But. But. Let me get my Jaldi 5 first. Everything else can wait.