Come monsoon – every year while city dwellers wait in rapt impatience for the rains to dissipate the summer heat and farmers wait in fertile lands for a richer crop – I alone, wait in silent prayer for autumn’s dryness to disperse monsoon’s dampness.
Against popular opinion – I hate the rains. I know everyone else has a different perception about the rainy season; one that is equated to the romanticized beauty of monsoon: lush greenery, stormy skies, occasional cloud bursts, precipitated mists, blowing winds etc. But the monsoon I see is a far cry from any of that.
Much like the ground squirrel of the American mid-west who – during the colder months – embarks on a sleep of a lifetime; come monsoon I prepare for a similar trajectory. Only instead of regulating my blood concentration and stacking up bodily glucose elsewhere as my pre-hibernation ritual, I start stacking up on my book reading recommendations.
Because honestly there is no other time in the whole year when I yearn for good books to read, like I do during the rains.
When the lockdown period began, I noticed that social media was flooded with posts about ‘staying positive’and‘being productive’ while staying at home. From a word here, to a post there – before I knew it – this concept of ‘positivity and productivity during a pandemic‘ snowballed into entire pages, campaigns and challenges! It spread through Instagram and Facebook like wildfire.
When I saw this, my first thought was: sure, this approach could lead to a temporary spike in motivation and optimism, but in other words – it could also be a distraction from allowing us to completely acknowledge and process how immensely challenging this period truly is. And on the days that we potentially struggle to cope with these ‘socially acceptable’ methods, we can end up feeling either guilt or shame – if not both.
I woke up one day to a WhatsApp video sent by my dad about a sighting of Hornbills in Altamount Road. I don’t remember last when I jumped out of bed with such rapid enthusiasm to watch a video. But when I did play it, my first thought was HORNBILLS IN THE CITY? Could this be real??!
When I finished watching the video – the realization then sunk in, I had been in a self imposed quarantine for nearly 23 days; 30 days counting today. And the fact that those hornbills could stray into the city so freely was – in a way – a reminder, nay, a result of it: this new way of living; humans retreating into the indoors.