23.5.21- Lockdown Extended

Dilip is from U.P and works at a dhaba. ‘ Madam, dar lagta he lekin roti khani he!’
While everyone stays home, things gets fixed.
A rag picker (didn’t want to disclose his name) in Sarojini Nagar
Prashant, an employee of the (in) famous Khan Chacha.
A lone guard sitting outside a store in CP
A lone man walking to work in CP

Day 14

One ends the fourteen days with gratitude- for the healing and for life, as the cases in India begin to decline and the positivity rate in Delhi has come down to 14%, the lowest since April 14th. Disclaimer- not enough people are being tested, yet the lockdown has been beneficial, there seems to be no shortage of oxygen, either. The shutting down of activity will be carried on till the thirty first, so that’s a good thing.

Just need to get my antibodies tested in a week or two so that one can decide about vaccination. Though, there’s nothing to decide now, is there? The NTAGI : National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has asked people who have recovered from Covid, to defer taking the jab for six months, from the day of recovery. When they’ve run out of vaccines, the authorities have to come up with innovative techniques like this and extending the time between the two shots. Like I said to someone today, anyone who has enough money, should plan their exit strategy away from this mess: the bhakts and the chaos.

Anyhow, as for me, I’ll probably remain the frog in the well, for now, as one has no offsprings, to worry about. The thought that consumes one these days, is of being electroencephalographically challenged and in that moment realizing that one has failed in trying to be a better version of oneself. One does make most decisions based on the final hour, yet the impulsiveness of one’s nature, the ability to blurt out the hurtful things, when cornered is one’s greatest flaw. When one doesn’t think and that side of one, which is great at self preservation fiercely either attacks or withdraws, goes into the classic fight or flight response, that is something that needs to change. Trust me, one tries and fails repeatedly.

Anyway, one is good at failing and trying again. This lone time gave one the opportunity to reach out. It began with one wanting to cut down on excessive interactions from this constant bombardment of depressing forwards. It ends with wanting to be less triggered by the actions and especially words of other individuals. Of course, after much deliberation one’s realized that some things remain better broken: to expose oneself to constant negative labelling, can have a terribly damaging effect on one’s mental well being. The campaign that’s been going for a year can run, one’s good, from afar, not wishing any one anything other than the best but from a distance. The hypersensitivity that one’s been told one suffers from can be and should be used more productively, so here’s hoping to do some good, before one kisses the world adieu!

So for the next few years at least, one plans to tell people one loves them ( I hate I love yous but I have this need to say it these days, still hearing it makes me uneasy), reach out to as many people as one can and to send flying kisses to random strangers. If you have someone you love, be with them and with your families. One’s heart has been divided and occupied for so long, that it’s being unable to. But if one survives the next two years, one’s promised oneself that one will truly try. I will go on a Tinder dating, rampage after that. Love, hump, do what you want but please think about your kid’s futures…assign someone to take care of them, Incase of your sudden demise.

Day 13


One is recovering steadily, one can figure out just by how restless one is at night. High levels of mental restlessness due to physical inactivity, just means I’ll be back in action. The physical weakness is still prevalent, one prances around the room as one talks over the phone to feel completely exhausted in a bit. Strangely enough, I kept praying for a positive result. Not only for the antibodies but also to know whether the gut instincts are as sharp as they used to be.

Found some useful data, in the middle of the night about CT scans. About how to determine if you’re Covid positive, through a scan and when should you get it done? So this is what I found out. The CT scan should be done after five days, from when the first symptoms crop up. The CT value will determine the severity of infection and the CORAD, which is the standardised grading of the likelihood of being Covid positive is given. The CT score is from a range of 0-25 or in some cases 0-40.

So a CORAD 1, means highly unlikely. CORAD-2- Level of suspicion of COVID-19 is low, CORAD 3- Unsure, typical for other infections, CORAD 4- level of suspicion is high, CORAD 5-typical for COVID 19 and COVID 6- proven RT-PCR positive for SARS COVID 2. Now, in my case on the 11th day the scan says CT-1 and CORAD-6. So the infection is minute but still in the system, but it’s been established as Covid. Thankfully, one was on antibiotics from day one. But this means one should keep one’s butt at home, away from other people, especially when one can spread it, due to the nature of work, till one doesn’t get another test done.

Like me, if you aren’t as terribly unwell, as other people are- with no fever, no severe symptoms but just have a general feeling of lethargy, eye infection, cramps; you’ll know best, what your body normally feels like when its sick or healthy. Listen to it very carefully. This is the time to tune into your inner voice, your intuition because the test results are deceptive, the labs under pressure and the doctors overworked. Plus, come on man, it’s a new virus and a smart one. No one can say for certain, how it’s going to attack each individual and what the symptoms are going to be. So keep yourself safe.

I am convinced, I had it last year, when my mum passed away. People go blue in the face, trying to convince me, otherwise but I’m one of those people who truly believes, no one really knows anything about anything in this world, so I’d rather trust my own instincts. So, let me tell you how it went down. I share this not for the sake of argument but also because you or your family would benefit greatly by being adamant. It might save your life, like it did mine!

My mum passed away on the 18th of March, which was a few days prior to the Janta curfew and a couple of weeks after the first case was declared in Delhi. The virus that we were made aware off, only in December, had been floating around the world, way before that. Anyway, she had been bed ridden for around eight months by then but was doing alright. A couple of weeks before she passed, a new nurse came to look after her. This girl had a headache, a cold and a terrible cough, so I sent her away and got another nurse. Anyhow, the week before she passed away, I took my mum to the doctor for a routine check, she was fine. But on the sixteenth night, she suddenly started running a fever. 99, sore throat and an upset stomach so I took her to the doctor the next morning. Her oxygen levels, sugar, Bp, everything was alright. The doctor prescribed medicines and I brought her home. The next day by the time I woke up, she passed away. The last person she saw that morning, was my dad, who looked at her realized she wasn’t breathing properly. The footage of her death, still sends a shiver down my spine. On arrival to the hospital, she was declared dead. Her death was termed a cardiac arrest!Now, it may or may not have been. Who knows?

But it is the sequence of events which followed, that make me term it a covid death. A few days after my mum passed away, I started to get sick. I had trouble breathing, so much so that I would gasp for air at night. I was taken to the hospital, where they checked my ECG, which was irregular, did my ECHO which was normal and sent me home with a prescription, for Alprax. We were already under lockdown and I told them I tried to give my mum mouth to mouth resuscitation, yet they didn’t ask me to get myself tested for Covid. They said I was just anxious, so every one believed them. I kept getting sicker, people thought I was being dramatic. People kept telling me there’s not a chance she had Covid or you have it. I believed everyone. But Rabb Rakha! Plus there’s someone who is hell bent on saving my life. So, thankfully, he would make video calls at that time, as I was terribly unwell, to see how I was doing and realized I was very sick. He made me take Novamox ( the same antibiotic I took last week) and after a couple of weeks I was fine. I think I had it, am more convinced now, but what do I know? Trust me, you will know, there’s something unusual! So save yourself, if you listen to naysayers you’ll get yourself killed.

Last year, Reuters reported that the Corona virus was circulating in Italy in September 2019. This study was carried on by the National Cancer Institute. Our ceramic rods- raw material for making resistors comes from Hubei in China and anyone who does business, with them will tell you, imports were getting delayed, way before December. In 2019, India was only the 12th largest trade partner of China. How many Indians must have travelled there between September and December?How many people would have come in contact with those people before the declaration? One has to wonder. Anyhow, now look at the current lockdown in Delhi. Do you know how many people are testing negative, inspite of being positive? You think it’s just a failing of the health care system or just that the strain doesn’t get detected? You believe the government will be willing to admit the real figures and would not be pressurising the authorities to keep the statistics lower, like they do in the case of natural calamities or the killings in Kashmir? Maybe they aren’t, so why are the number of tests being conducted decreasing?

Do you really believe a country that is exporting at the scale that China does would let anyone know, what was happening? If this is bio warfare and synthetic, like some people argue, if it is so ( I don’t know) then wouldn’t they wait for it to spread everywhere and then make the announcement or not make it at all, until they feel like they’ll get caught? None of us can be certain what really happened! Even now around the world, the deaths of old, sick, hypertensive, diabetic people are not added to the statics! Do you not wonder, if there was no COVID, would Rishi Kapoor and Irfan Khan, have survived a few more years? I know they were unwell but much healthier, after their treatments. I’m not even counting all the indirect ways in which Covid, has killed many people by playing with their mental well being, like in the case of Sushant Singh. I think all these things all the time, so when I found Vir Das, talking about some of the same thing, on his episode about death, I was glad I’m not the only one. Though, after watching that video, one had to wonder if his mum has actually passed away at the age 65? If when he speaks about this being his job, he’s trying to poke fun at his own grief? But one wonders many things, I’ve been told it’s my greatest flaw.

Day 12

Read a beautiful line, on FB written by Mukhul ‘ surround yourself with life affirmative individuals and unicorns- they make you believe the ship mustn’t sink!’ Beautiful, na?

To be better prepared for the third wave, the Delhi government is increasing the ICU beds. After the shortage of oxygen cylinders and now vaccines…God knows, our holy places will be better prepared, before any government, wakes up from their slumber. We should give our taxes to them. The choice between Aap and Bjp is like choosing between the devil and the deep blue sea. But still, the deep blue sea is not a monstrous, murderer! One has a feeling enough time in power and they will head there too, to appease to us, the bloody thirsty public!

As the daily Covid positive cases drop and are at the lowest in India since the 26th of April, the infection is prevalent in my body, so one stays put at home. My life affirmative individuals- family and friends, fuss and scold, to ensure that one remains safe. Thankfully, the aunts are super protective and the Wall and Shets are great at yelling. So they won’t let me take a risk even if there was the slightest doubt! A school friend and the sister, who were checking on me, told me I should get myself tested again ( one said blood test, the other a CT scan) but I didn’t have any fever, so I was going to revert to the regular routine, rather than sitting and shipping Jikook, endlessly. That’s until I spoke to a friend who has isolated himself and I realised one doesn’t have the luxury of being careless. There’s a mild infection even after the antibiotics and I got an earful, from the lab. ‘ Can I go out for work?’, I called up after they sent me the result. ‘Ma’am this means you have to consult the doctor and have medicines!’ So, of course one has nothing to do other than to record this time by writing, for posterity. Two more days of isolation!

Reach Out

Spent the past few days, catching up with friends, family, colleagues and a few of the exes. One’s had all the time in the world, during this isolation to go back and forth, re-examine and reevaluate, for which one is most grateful. It seems like we’re all playing Russian roulette, no one knows whose going to survive. Might as well, find out how they’re doing, might be our last chance, won’t even get to know.

It’s been quite sentimental. Human beings are capable of doing the worst to each other, yet in such times of crisis, most people become more humane. Their best versions shine! The human spirit has amazing resilience and is capable of such incredible kindness, that even a deadly disease like this can’t stop it, from helping people. This is a strange time to be alive, one is scared shit for everyone and yet the heart is warmed by the kindness one witnesses.

Of course, even at this time there are people who are black marketing goods and hoarding. Flip side of it I guess. People also continue to be not such nice versions of themselves- the gossip mongering and the taunting continue. One’s an easy target, too many scandals, too many men and zero apology for the life one has lived! Thankfully, the men one is surrounded by from the father, to the brothers, to the friends, to the prospects are beyond being scandalised by any of my escapades. Most of them just plain amused. The women are a different story but you know, if one has to be something else, I’d rather kiss them goodbye, now! Everyone knows practically everything and what you don’t know is tattooed on my body, so booo hooo!

But the vilification is interesting, as a study, as something that happens to someone else, as a story about a character. One day one will record, al the scandals on video and put it out for the whole world to see. Na, it will invade the privacy of the men, so can’t. But just to Scandalise the next partner, before anyone else does. If he flees, he’s not worth it and if he stays, well then it’s cool! Ya, that’s why I’m still single, not! Other people’s contempt is quite a good fuel for the ego! Being watched, examined and taunted, definitely inflates it! Even in these times, a random person, repeatedly creating a site that embeds part of my text into his website and when you click on it, it gets redirected to some shady websites. It’s been going on for months, inspite of my best efforts. Even in these times, due to a difference in political ideology, people you know, insinuating, ‘ oh the only time you’re open minded is at night!’ (trying to take a potshot at a love affair from seven years ago that the man’s friend has gone and blurted to them) or wishing death on you! No guesses required for their political leanings. That’s a low, of another kind! Of course SB, has replies that are terribly viscous but to say something at this time, is not only foolhardy but very insensitive. But one records this just incase, in the near future one forgets, what people are capable off!

Day 7

Ahh, the lovely scent of rain. I sit on a rickety plastic chair, looking at the R block park which is totally devoid of human beings and full of birds, chirping away to glory. Grateful, one couldn’t have asked for a better place to be isolated. Of course you could argue Goa or the hills, which just proves you’re clueless about exactly how privileged we are. The employees who make us rich- work in our companies, our homes, on our construction sights; three share a tiny room and have to share the toilet with sixteen people. So, forgive me, for thinking one has too much, my comparisons are different.

Feel better, sporadically some symptoms crop up- stomach ache, itchy eyes and of course the constant body pain but one keeps feeling like one is perfectly alright. Got some work done, after a week. Feel a bit chatty today, called up to check up on a few people, promised to party when this thing gets over.

But when is it going to get over? It looks like it’s going to be around for a while. The physical and financial damage it’s doing, everyone is well aware off but the psychological damage is rampant. Even for someone like me, who speaks maximum an hour or two in a day ( unless I am teaching), after a week it starts to get to you. This is despite having the floor to move around, just the thought that all of a sudden it might worsen and it’s packy, wacky time. Am I that unwell? No! I just always imagine the worst case scenario and then take it from there.

So if I were to die soon, do I have any regrets? Not anymore. I’ve said and done what I needed to, it’s a pity my will isn’t registered. Of course, everything will go to charity, preferably Khalsa Aid and I shit you not, if anyone tries to cremate me, I will haunt them till kingdom comes. What scares me is that all my Muslim friends who have promised to find me a place, to be buried, will not be able to turn up. Otherwise, I’m good, death can take me when it wants. Dying in my car would be preferable but on my own bed, is not bad either.

Suicides and depression, separation and divorces, this pandemic is just giving everyone grief. A famous couple gets divorced after 27 years ( Bill And Melinda) and it turns into news. The enslavement of two people to a higher ideal, ‘us’ , purely for the sake of an alliance to expand the family’s labour force, should have become redundant by now, once monogamy became the norm and after women became financially independent. In this day and age, what do women need men for other than war, I have to wonder or viz a viz. Vibrators, IVF, robots- technology is replacing the ‘ need’ for a man/ woman. Companionship and intimacy, aren’t replaceable but one look at married couples and it seems to me, marriage just sucks the passion out of love.

Around the world, divorces have been skyrocketing. There’s a 122% jump in enquires for divorce proceedings, states the BBC. Of course in India, young people are still opting for the arranged alliance and putting themselves up, to be tied to the best bidder. Maybe, there’s some wisdom in it, who knows. I might just be J, incapable as one isn’t a saleable package-average looking loner, with below average intelligence, with too many tatoos, a sailors mouth and a stubbornness that could only be inherited. I should turn this into a matrimonial ad and to it I should add- not doing it enough, will 200% lead to a divorce. Forget marriage, they’ll put me on a cross and torch me! I’m definitely putting this on my- if I survive the next two years ( Covid) list. It’s a work in progress, unfortunately everything on it requires me to grow up, which is highly unlikely!

Day 6

The isolation makes one realize how privileged one is. To have space to move around, is a blessing. Though, the results are negative, one feels like crap. The eyes are starting to trouble again, the body pains are the same, there’s a problem with the throat. But everything else is alright.

It’s frustrating not being able to read at all but my -8, eyes and mind tend to get affected the most when one is unwell. ‘Keep your spirits high, my baby and talk to your friends’ says my aunt, who fusses over me, like a mother hen. ‘Talking takes too much energy and makes me feel sapped on a normal day, right now, I don’t have the strength to!’ I reply. The aunts (my dad’s sisters) have taken me under their wings, since mum’s passing. The father of course, hasn’t spoken to one in six days, which one should be used to, ‘cause he’s always been like that with everybody but SC is too sensitive. Nevertheless, concerned childhood friends and family rally around, for which one is most grateful. SC, loves being scolded and fussed over, so she’s chuffed. But one does feel useless and a little bit like a fraud, getting so much attention when all one really feels is extreme fatigue.

Of course, one is always open to speaking to the male friends ( I’m not misogynistic but most men one hangs with are hilarious, my female friends bit too serious) call up to check on R, who too is recovering. ‘ Now you know, what I was talking about Ma’am?’ he laughs. Of course, we discuss all the places we are going to hang out at, whenever we can. One is always game for spontaneous plans and this one is too much fun. As is V, who called up to check on me. This time a bit too serious, ‘don’t take this lightly, I just lost my classmate today. He was alright yesterday and today he’s no more!’ he sounded really upset and concerned. Who would have thought, we’ll see this day? It’s horrible. Our dead are just turning into statistics, mere numbers against this fight!

However, this is a good time to take stock of our lives. To imagine a different way of being, to invent a different lifestyle, for planning a life away from this hustle bustle, re prioritising and rearranging everything, especially relationships. People keep saying, relationships are important but no one realizes how much of our time and our lives, we give to unnecessary ones. So, I’ve being doing a serious rethink, of who and what I will give my energy to. In the end, it’s just going to be you and the people who really, truly care about you, fighting this fight against Covid or any other fight you will ever take on in your life. So conserve the energy!

Love in the times of a pandemic


One hears terrible news of deaths all around and finds oneself in front of a cremation ground, looking in, as usual. To even pretend to grieve your passing seems like a vulgarity, with death standing at everyone’s doorsteps! Happy birthday….miss you lots but I’m so glad the doctor didn’t realize you were infected ( at that time they didn’t even test me, though I had trouble breathing, had an infection and my ECG was erratic) otherwise, you too would have been like all those innumerable people dying alone in hospital and in your condition you wouldn’t have survived two days. I’m so glad the last person you saw was the person you loved the most-your husband. Uff, Ishq! So romantic and dramatic, Pinky!!

The Buas, who were like younger sisters to you, sent me messages today. One wrote, ‘ I’m sure the angels are looking after their own!’ Sweet messages for an adorable creature, I miss everyday!

Other than sickness the only thing that seems to be happening is- marriage! Yup! Last year one was taken aback by the absurdity of wanting to tie the knot during a pandemic but as time passes and more people die, one can wrap one’s head around that idea. I see people hooking up left right and centre, a bride and groom were walking on an empty road yesterday, with what seemed like a few relatives…one took charge as official photographer and snapped them for posterity. Another couple apparently took pheras in PPE kits because the groom tested positive. Nothing, seems to work on moi of course!

The radio too plays weird stories called ‘deedh ishqiya’. Yesterday, this is what the the RJ’s recited-a woman is stuck at home, hasn’t met her boyfriend due to the pandemic, so they have this weird ass conversation about getting married because they can’t bear not being with each other. Eye roll! Maybe, I’m just a bit J, can’t think of a single person, I would want to go through this with. Oh and of all the damn times, people are busy making babies. For God’s sakes! By all means hump each other like bunnies but there are no hospital beds, no oxygen, the air we are breathing in any case is poisonous and us Earthlings are hell bent on turning this planet into a dumping ground, at this freaking time you want to bring a child into this world? Slow clap!! People think we are weird, my goodness, I wonder what they’re smoking?

Your husband insists I’m a doomster. He told me the other day, if I was born before he got married, I would have convinced him not to tie the knot and have me. That’s not true. I’m all for love, but the kind that’s crazily passionate and a little bit impossible! I’m trying to change how I’ve always imagined the future- by myself. These days I’m trying projecting, imagining what kind of love would I want, which has led me to become a total Jimkook shipper. Don’t laugh, yes, I do want a love story akin to two twenty year old gay boys. It’s adorable. Now I should start looking for a girl! I wish Amma, please do something and change my sexual orientation!

I’ve been telling R and S that they must marry the girls they’re in love with soon. Of course, I’ll have to find younger boys to hang out with but that’s okay. I really should start hanging out with women more often, friendships with men last till they get married or till either of you falls for the other.

I wish you were around to scream and dance all day. The house is too lonely without you. The Father and I bicker all the time and since you’re not there to pacify us, we have to call a truce on our own, which is quite boring. From wearing a mask, to him shutting down the factory for a few day, everything I say seems too pessimistic to him. ‘Nothing will happen, stop behaving like my mother. Go and have babies of your own!’ he yells till I yell back and storm out. Poor Bhaskarji, just nods his head in dismay! According to him, I give myself too much importance. The other day, I was very upset because someone has been trying to hack my phone and has been repeatedly including text from one of my articles into the HTML code of a website. When you click on it, it drives it into another shady website. This has been going on for months and I have to keep complaining to Google. So, I told your husband and of course he thought I was overreacting. ‘Why do you care? Is it you? No, na, then let the person do whatever he pleases!’ I lost my shit! I told him not because he can do anything about it ( I will complain to the cyber cell and then God help whoever is doing this especially at this time) but a little bit of enragement would have been appreciated! But unlike you and I, there’s just pure pragmatism there, if you can’t do anything about it, ignore it! Oh how I miss you, my darling. Your death has sucked the fun out of most things but I’m trying to have the best life I can, for your sake and mine!