As a paralysed world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, millions have been asked to not report to work. States are issuing lockdowns with no end in sight.
But even as many of us are at home, anxious as we are, let us also acknowledge that there are millions more who cannot afford the option, and who are facing a loss of basic livelihood as this pandemic rages across borders.
Plenty of Indians don’t have the luxury of withdrawing from the public. For many, the work is already gone. Others face talk of salary cuts and layoffs.
Discrimination has also taken off – a recent LiveWire story pointed out how many from Northeast India have faced hostile, racist comments. As the crisis continues, let’s hope people fight this with love and support, and not hate and bigotry.
Mostly we’ve got to sit tight at home and do our best to “flatten the curve”.
Some of us are taking to isolation like fish to water, taking in the joys of doing laundry at lunch time, rustling up magnificent meals, committing to fitness regimens, nurturing their plants and soaking in all that family time.
People are turning to books, Netflix, learning languages and the like to occupy all the time not having to commute to work (or meet anyone) can create. It’s not unlikely that many artists and writers will use this time constructively – these are mad times after all, making it all the more likely for inspiration to spark.
Cabin fever is never far off; neither is loneliness and longing for a past pre-2020 life.
Or the unending anxiety as news floods in continuously on our phones.
Many are fighting battles at home – where family members are still defiantly stepping out despite our pleas. With the higher mortality rate among the elderly, a novel role reversal has kicked in – with young people protecting their older family from misinformation, WhatsApp forwards and egos.
There has also been a spike in domestic violence cases – the crisis makes it harder for victims to seek help.
Vox’s Ezra Klein warned of a “social recession” – an epidemic of loneliness brought on by isolation. So checking in on your friends is more important than ever.
Let’s not forget the overjoyed pets, who are ecstatic to see you at home 24/7 – but is your cat jumping on your laptop in the middle of a conference call? Is your dog just too needy?
Taken together, the world we lived in has been yanked from beneath our feet.
Lives are going to be lost, jobs and savings will disappear. And we will adapt – it’s already begun.
It is a new world full of new stories.
We want to hear yours – every week in this new column breaking down what it’s like living in this new world.
This is the new normal.
Write in to us – in 200 words – with the subject line ‘The New Normal’, and tell us your lockdown story. We want both light, frothy tales and the darker reality.
And while you’re writing: Stop touching your face.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty