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From Sutta Breaks to Family Bonds: My Lockdown Lessons!

( words)
*For representational purpose only.

"And life continues," they say. As I see myself after 45 days of lockdown, I question myself: is it really me? The coronavirus might have brought a lot of negativity, fear, and depression with it,  but I believe it also brought with it a lot of life lessons for people like myself.

Who was I some days back? So, allow me to show you a glimpse of the perfectly imperfect life of mine.

Morning 7 am, when the phone alarm rings, I hit the snooze button like most of us and sleep for another hour. I wake up to my wife's continuous yells and prepare for the new day.  After taking a bath and getting ready for the office, I eat the already-served breakfast on the table. 

I drop my son to school and reach the office. I never paid attention to getting the breakfast served on the table on time, getting my son ready for school, preparing lunch for us, finishing the other morning's household chores, and reaching her office timely when my wife would have woken up. I never thought of how she would manage everything.

After coming home at around 9–9:30 p.m., I used to get so tired that I only wanted to have dinner and watch television in peace. Sometimes, I used to shout at my son when he came to me and asked me to play with him. 

My statement was always, "Papa is tired. Go have some fun with Mumma." I was still unaware of the fact that my wife might have also come back home late. 

My mother, who lives with us, has occasionally requested me to assist my wife with home tasks, but I have always told her that I am the one who handles family expenditures and works till late at night. 

If we have this luxurious lifestyle, it is because I am the one who earns so much. She can quit her work if she wants, but she isn't doing anything to assist with the bills. So it was all about me—a person who saw himself as the lifeline of my family without genuinely caring about them.

I was in the office when our Honourable Prime Minister came on television at 8 p.m. and declared a 21-day lockdown. An atmosphere of panic was created in the office. My colleagues left home early, claiming they needed to go to the market and get groceries. 

While listening to this, I left the office, and unlike others, my panic shopping consisted of 10 packs of cigarettes and five whiskey bottles. After a lot of struggle to buy the same, I reached back home. I asked my mother and wife if they had heard about the announced 21-day lockdown. My wife responded that she had been attempting to call me for the previous couple of hours, and my number was unreachable.

"I have kept my stock of cigarettes and whiskey. There was a huge rush, but somehow I managed. See how good I am," I said casually. My wife stared at me with a shock in her eyes. I asked her if there was something that I had missed. 

If she also needed something. "No. You have not missed anything. Great, you got whatever you needed. For the next 21 days, we all will sit on the table and have Whiskey and Cigarettes instead of food and milk," she taunted. 

I understood her point and asked if we had enough groceries for the next 21 days. She replied 'No'. 

I couldn't sleep that night since I was thinking about my selfishness. The next morning, I received a call from my boss, who said that we would have to work from home until the lockdown was lifted.

I got ready and left the house to go grocery shopping. I realised it had been years since I had been to a grocery shop. Buying groceries and getting the billing done that day seemed like a nightmare. But I had to do it to cover up my mistake from the day before.

My following 2-3 days passed like any other, with the exception that I was working from home. My mother once requested me to assist her in moving the plants from one balcony to the other. I did the same thing. I questioned my mother why she was doing all this and why she didn't hire a gardener to handle it all.

At that time, my wife told me that she had always been taking care of all the plants, and we never had a gardener. After glancing at the plants, I was taken aback. My balcony is overflowing with flowers and plants, and my mother has grown coriander, mint, green chillies, lemon, curry patta, and tomato at home. 

I sat there with my mother for a while, listening to her describe how she creates fertiliser for her plants at home and protects them from insects. The way she told me everything made me realise that taking care of plants is her passion, something I had no idea about. We spoke about plants for over two hours. I've never been interested in plants before, but now I am. 

Doing work from home saves a lot of travelling time of yours, especially in the metropolitans. So you get enough time to spend with your family, and your family members also see you free most of the time.

My wife asked me to help my son with his worksheet. I had no idea how to teach somebody, but I agreed to try because she insisted. 

I walked into his room and asked him to give me his worksheet so I could understand what he was learning. Rather than giving me his sheet, he asked me if he could tell me a story. I said okay to that. 

The story starts with Iron Man fighting with Superman. Then, a dinosaur appears to assist Hulk, and I'm not sure where Batman enters the picture, and eventually, Chota Bheem wins the fight. 

The story had no sense, but listening to it made my heart heavy. Heavy with a strange feeling. I never laughed that much with my office colleagues as I was laughing with my son. I  couldn't make him study, but I felt pleased with myself for failing. 

We've been watching cartoons together every day since then, and it's one of my favourite times of the day.

On a Saturday, I told my wife that I would prepare breakfast for everyone the next day. She said excitedly, "Let's see how good you are at cooking." The next day, I woke up at 10 a.m. When I looked at the time, I felt terrible since I promised her yesterday, and she was so thrilled about me preparing breakfast, and now she must be upset. 

With my face down, I went to her and stood beside her. She asked me if I had a bad dream. I was shocked that she did not say anything about the promise I made the previous day. I asked her, "Aren't you sad that I promised you yesterday about cooking breakfast and couldn't make it?"

She returned her grin and stated, "You were sleeping, so I cooked breakfast, and it's okay." You can try your hands at lunch.

That statement of hers made me understand the true meaning of family bonding—an art of forgiveness and togetherness. These may be little incidents, but they brought some significant realisations. 

This lockdown taught me the importance of family. It has taught me that it is always better to cut down on your sutta breaks at work and devote that time to your family by returning home early. 

It made me realise that when you are a part of a family, you are a team. Each member of the family is analogous to a car tyre, without which the vehicle cannot move. No one is better than the other.

Today, I am a completely changed person. I spend time with my family, watch cartoons with my son, take care of plants with my mother, help my wife with household chores, and still take some sutta breaks at home.

This lockdown forced me to stay at home. It pushed me to live a life that I never knew existed. It compelled me to spend time with my family, which I had never done before. But I'm in love with everything today. I love to be a part of my family as a faithful member who cares about them equally. 

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