Peculiar times

April 12, 2020

It’s okay to miss the humdrum of your pre-lockdown life

Strange days breed stranger thoughts, and these are perhaps the strangest of days.

As human beings, we have the tendency to ignore our surroundings when we’re busy. Whether it is the mundane-ness of a supposedly unwanted daily routine or the sounds of a city we’re sure we want to escape someday, we tend to take whatever we have for granted. The certainty of daily monotony makes it impossible for us to stop and think of a situation where things could become entirely uncertain.

It is only natural then, to feel lost when you lose the comfort of that certainty. It is enough to trigger a storm of feelings in you that you would otherwise never entertain. You feel that time holds still, exactly when you’d like it to pass quickly. Your mind simultaneously rejoices and mourns for all that you have lost. You cannot run away from yourself when you have nowhere to run to, not with all the time in the world on your hands.

So what do you do to endure this new normal? You begin by wanting to continue the pattern of life you were so used to. You look for solace in the realm of Zoom and Houseparty gatherings. You think you can go on living the way you were so used to, but in the virtual world.

You begin to think of this time as a huge break that you perhaps needed. But then reality creeps up on you, slowly and methodically, like it always does. It gradually dawns upon you that you really are alone. You are trapped in the confines of your home, and you do not know when you will be out and about in the world again.

As terrifying a thought as it is to come to terms with, it is also a strangely soothing one. Soothing, because now you suddenly do have all the time you always wanted. It is up to you to panic or accept this new reality and find a way to live with yourself as the world crumbles around you.

April in Lahore is the month of flowers and colour, joy and love. There is only one thing that Lahoris dread during these spring days: the horrific, long summer months ahead. This April, that is the least of our worries, for we have worse things to fear. From the windows of our homes, we can see the trees blooming, the sky clearing, birds twittering, everything exactly the way it is supposed to be. Inside, however, our worlds are falling apart. The strangest spring of our lives has arrived.

But this is where the human capacity for hope comes into play. No matter how sad and deprived we feel, deep down inside we all know that we will eventually get through this. There are times when I feel nostalgic for January and I think that’s absurd. I scroll through my Instagram feed, overflowing with ‘until-tomorrows and ‘what will I do when this is over’ pictures. I don’t even know if this feeling can be called nostalgia. Because this is not really a past that will never come again. It will, it’s just that I do not really know when.

So it is fine if you are suddenly overwhelmed with all of these emotions, because human beings seldom permit themselves to feel things otherwise. One day when this is all over, which it will be, maybe you will remember this time; the helplessness you felt for not being able to carry on with your everyday life, when you somewhat realised just how exquisite life is and how lucky you are to be able to experience it.

The writer is a staff member

Peculiar times: It’s okay to miss the humdrum of your pre-lockdown life