Locked in

"Bahaar se koi andar na aa sake..Andar se koi bahaar na ja sake"- Words of a popular song from the 1970s. But who would have imagined  then that something like this would actually  happen half a century later? We might not have imagined something like this happening even fifty days ago!

But it has, and along with it the  cracks that we might have ignored so far in our close relationships might begin to show!

The idea of an entire family being locked in together for 21 days with limited opportunities for external interaction,  is in itself something unique. It has begun testing relationships like never before. The positive thinkers are talking about  families "bonding" !! I think at this point, it is the "unraveling" that one needs to be concerned about.

Interactions within a family are defined by the time we spend together. As long as that time is limited we make best use of it. Weekends and vacations are all finite. So we enjoy them and bond. But imagine, every day when you wake up,  do your  basic household chores and start working from home with your spouse or child sitting next to you, also working or may be doing something else, it is neither conducive for work nor is it for a family scene!

As a person who works from home, I miss the quietness and solitude of the  home as my work place. I miss my routine for the day where I used to  juggle household work and professional responsibilities and achieve that perfect balance.  I find it annoying when I hear my husband speak loudly on the phone while I try to concentrate on something. I guess for him , who works from the office, he misses the office ambiance with its specified lunch and tea breaks where he can go back to work without having to wash a dozen vessels along with his  plate.  And it completely throws me off balance when I find my daughter fast asleep at 8.00 AM after attending  online classes at her university in the US until 2.00 AM. Breakfast is a meal that she cannot have with us anyway and lunch would have to be her first meal -which would be earlier than when we usually eat. Yes, I know, one would have to adjust to this. But imagine trying to juggle that with your work.! Your family wants to eat lunch at 12.30  or your daughter eats dinner at 6.00 PM so she can be in her virtual classroom by 7.00 PM , when you are on a call with someone or you still haven't got around to finishing your work for the day ? So the options are that whoever is hungry eats whenever they can- defeating that idea of " family bonding" !

Someone had put up a very preachy kind of post in one of the social media groups I am in, about how this is the time to learn a new skill or new craft or exercise !! I was just thinking how it reeks of entitlement ! We are not Deepika Padukone trying out recipes and posting videos on instagram and neither are we Katrina Kaif trying to "teach"  how to wash vessels. Trying out new recipes is a luxury in these difficult times when getting the basic veggies is a big challenge. And then ofcourse is the time question. I have barely enough time to get all my chores done, finish my office work  and at the end of the day I am ready to hit the sack! This is the not the time I can do knitting and embroidery or learn yoga asanas. My daily work out involves a brisk walk along the beach early in the morning. The beach is now off limits and I am not going to sprain some muscle trying to learn yoga at this point!

But despite all this I think my situation is not that bad. I was thinking about women who were locked in the house with abusive husbands. Many women, enjoy a breath of freedom when the abuser leaves for work or  when they themselves, leave home for work. But when the man is at home and going through uncertainties about his future, you know who he is going to take it out on!! I was in a virtual meeting with a group of organizations who are doing work on preventing violence against women. It was heart wrenching to hear about what many women are being subjected to. Not only are they being physically abused, they are also being sexually abused as the husband in many cases constantly demands sex. So the jokes about a "baby boom" post lock down are not actually "jokes" - they are cruel realities for many women who might be forced into unwanted pregnancies in a situation where contraceptives might not be easily accessible.

So coming back to the issue of  how this is going to affect relationships? Are families going to go on the same way as before? Work is no  longer what it used to be.An office is more than a place where people go to work. It is a place where one forms friendships and social networks. That simple pleasure of having a coffee with a colleague while discussing  something from the grapevine is not available anymore. Your spouse is not going to understand a situation from your work the way your friend at the office can.

We  construct images of our professional selves which we present to our families  We like to show ourselves as the heroes / heroines who are loved and admired by all. And now that image starts crumbling  Your spouse  sees you in a different light when they witness that real professional side of yours. After they  hear you speak on a call  they might just think "My God, if someone speaks to me like that at my work spot I am not going to take it". And if you are a young person locked in at home with your parents then you can expect a lecture from your father or mother who is likely to say "You have really disappointed us with your rudeness today" ! That would just be the trigger for the youngster to lash out at the parent telling them "Yes, look where the niceness has taken you professionally" ! And don't be surprised if your spouse throws your office behavior at you when you have your next argument about something!!!

I realize now that there our lives are made of different parcels where we package different parts of ourselves. Unfortunately at this time, the entire load is open and lumped together in a heap. Your family is going to see all sides to you , probably every other day for an unlimited period of time. There is no escaping or hiding something for certain periods of the day. And that is something that is the most challenging part of being locked in with your family. Much would depend on how we cope together as a family in dealing with that unpleasant side that each one of us have.

(Image from the internet)


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