Locked down or locked in? Isolated or insulated?

By Poornima Koonath
Photo by sean Kong on Unsplash

My first memory of a lock down is 1971. We were in Delhi at the time and though I was little girl, the darkness and the anxiety at home during the ‘71 Indo-Pak war is quite vivid in my memory. I can still see the windows in my house that were covered with dark brown paper and many layers of newspapers, to stop the light from penetrating out once it gets dark. No lights in the house, only candles were burnt. And though I didn’t know what was going on, I sensed the urgency and the tension in the air.

My other memory of a lock down is from when communal riots broke out in Bengaluru. I was in year 9 or 10. It was not just a lock down but a lock in. Curfew was imposed even during the day. Everything was closed. Since in those days my family did not have a phone and there was no social media, there was no way I could check in on my friends whose houses were in the epicentre. I recall those very worrying moments.

And now the memory of COVID-19 is something that all of us will carry forward with us. It may be a lock down but how many of you feel locked in? And it seems like we have been isolated so we can be insulated from this highly infectious outbreak. While the entire conversation is around social distancing, we have become more active on several platforms outside the physical space.

The adults are quite vocal on these social platforms, posting photos of the different activities they are engaged in. The hobbies they are revisiting, their cooking escapades and the thrill at doing things with their kids and watching their kids do things. I have seen remnants of the kids’ chalk work on driveways and exhibitions of their craft work during my regular walks in the estate I live in.

I am quite sure just like the memories I carry of the two lock downs I experienced, the younger generation would carry with them memories of this isolation, this insulation, this lock in, this lock down. I spoke to some of them aged between 5 and 11. It is interesting that while some echo what they may have heard from their parents or from the news, some others have quite an opinion of their own.

Yash who is eleven is convinced that it is nature’s way of getting back and controlling population. He is happy that the birds can now fly without the planes getting in their way. However he is not a fan of staying indoors most of the time—he is worried about losing his sanity.

The adults are quite vocal on these social platforms, posting photos of the different activities they are engaged in. The hobbies they are revisiting, their cooking escapades and the thrill at doing things with their kids and watching their kids do things

Nikhil thinks we are living in a virtual world where humans have been forced into a bubble by the pandemic. Things seem rosy for now and life is simple and direct. A few more weeks and the bubble will burst forcing humans into longing for their complicated lives. His little sister Mia is having the time of her life. She is happy that while she is still in touch with her friends, she has the luxury of petting her cat all day and eating hot food. Though she enjoys the backyard and a number of creative activities, she is disappointed at the getaways that had to be cancelled due to this period of isolation.

Ishaan is quite aware about the impact the pandemic has had in the job market and feels quite uncomfortable with the whole situation. He is eagerly looking forward to the end of this isolation and itching to get on his bike to go cycling out in the open with his mum and younger brother.

Simran acknowledges that it is just not her but children like her around the world who have been affected by this pandemic. She is not a big fan of online classes, she prefers the face-to-face interactions of the classroom. She however is glad that she gets to enjoy more family time, watching movies, cooking and exercising.

Five-year-old Samhita knows all about COVID-19 and is not happy that she has to stay at home because her mum works from home. This little munchkin is waiting for this to end so she can purchase her gummies as she is quite convinced that they have stopped making them. She is also looking forward to going to the park with her friends. Her older sister Sahana, who is 10 years old understands why the restrictions are in place and the importance of social distancing to stop the spread. While she enjoys the extra family time and is able to learn through Skype and Zoom, like her little sister, she is waiting to get out of the house, to the parks for some fun times with her friends.

It really doesn’t matter which generation you are born into, children always yearn for similar things. In this entire situation, they are the little heroes, who have accepted the reality and are making the best of the available resources. The only difference is that during my childhood lock down days, there was no social media and very limited screen time. But then we couldn’t have missed something that we were not aware of. The challenges the parents faced then are quite different from the challenges faced by the parents today. It is very easy to get addicted to the screen and all those of you who creating a good balance for your kids, are truly doing an amazing job.

Life with its trials and tribulations creates for us experiences and we learn from these on the go and we grow. Hopefully these trying times have taught us some lessons and ushered in a new respect for things we had taken for granted.

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