Suman and Jagdish Chandra Mathur
As had been a practice with us for the last four-five winters, this year too we came to Mumbai to stay with our younger daughter, son-in-law and our three-year-old grandson in January 2020. We had plans to return to Delhi in the first week of March but due to their loving persuasion to return after our grandchild’s birthday on March 19, we booked our flight tickets for March 22 evening. We were enjoying the days with them but as the day of our departure came closer, we started getting news of a number of international flights getting cancelled due to the outbreak of coronavirus in many countries and the panic that had spread in the world and, to some extent, in India as well. It never occurred to us even then that the situation in India is going to deteriorate so fast.
Two days before our date of departure, it was announced that PM Modi will address the nation in the evening. We keenly listened to his address in which he requested the citizens to observe complete “janta curfew” on March 22 and that no one should come out of their homes and show solidarity.
We thought over it again and again and, like law-abiding citizens, came to the conclusion of cancelling our flight, and re-booking it in the coming weeks when things got under control. On March 25, the nationwide lockdown of three weeks was announced and till date, we all know how it all has been continuing.
During lockdown, we are strictly not going out and trying to utilise our time fruitfully and assist our daughter in her daily chores. We involve ourselves in cooking, cleaning, buying groceries and other online purchases with her, or even when it needs to be arranged from the vendor who visits the housing society regularly. Weekends, which are now all days of the week, are spent whipping up special dishes as everyone is WFH as well! We have experimented with dishes such as chhole bhature; bedmi-aloo; bhelpuri; a number of Continental dishes; Indian-style Chinese; dosas, idlis and uttapams and even off-the-track meals like a chaat lunch. We even made the golgappas from scratch! As our grandson loves cakes, we experimented with baking in the microwave — a personal first! Good food is mostly accompanied with Netflix on weekends! It is very relaxing.
Our grandson enjoys playing with his nanu (maternal grandfather) in whom he has found a great playmate. We are trying to relive our childhood days by sitting with him in the balcony and watching the moon rise or noting the movement of vehicles which pass once in a while on the road. We have also introduced him to our childhood games like pitthu and staapoo. Old poems which kept us engaged when we were kids are often recited to him and then he is told to recite them too! We also read out stories to him.
Another interesting thing we did during the lockdown was a zoom video chat with nearly 20 families that included brothers, sisters, their children, grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren from all across the globe!
Being safe and comfortable with our children is a blessing but the uncertainty of returning to our Delhi home that would have been lying unattended house for months worries us. We had given our house keys to a trusted person who regularly came to water the plants (about 50), and look after the house and the car. But due to the lockdown, he has been unable to do so for the last one month or so. We have given up all hopes on the plants whom we had nurtured for so many years like our children. Our daughter shares our love for plants and we recently experimented with growing microgreens in the balcony garden, which turned out to be a success and gave us so much joy!
We have come to terms that nothing can be done about it and have left it on God. Our elder daughter is in Gurugram but too can’t visit our Delhi home. We are praying and hoping that things will soon become normal and people who are stuck in other states and cities will be able to return home.
Mathurs are Delhi-based senior citizens