A reader writes about the variety of emotions experienced during the lockdown
This pandemic has exposed us for who we truly are. Self-centred, needy, arrogant, scared, judgmental, angry, insecure children trapped in adult bodies.
We are constantly demanding either of ourselves or of others who are around us. We need emotional, physical, and financial support. We continue in abusive relationships. We seek friendships in places we would have never looked before.
We cannot sit still, for we have been taught to be productive all our lives, we’ve been taught to make something of ourselves. So we write, we paint, we bake, we sow, we learn new tricks, we work, we are willing to be exploited by our employers, we keep ourselves occupied telling ourselves that today was not so bad.
We demand affirmation that everything will be okay. We long for our old lives, no matter how bad it was. We long to be held. We long for the soul crunching 9-8 routine. We long for the jejune, choking lives and spaces we inhabited. We feel morally superior because we did not do the cringe-worthy antics of people who do not share our “rational, worldly-wise” political views.
We are as we were, burrowing more and deeper into our holes, cocooning inside our bubbles, either unable or unwilling to maybe change who we are. We fear looking into ourselves. We could look at others, take heart at thinking we are better than most, feel depressed that we can never be some, but never look at ourselves with the same critical eye that we lay on others. Doing that would show us who we truly are.
Hoarders. We hoard food, convincing ourselves that we need some part of our lives to continue as before. That eating well would help us cope with the stress and uncertainty. We hoard attention and love, for we do not want to feel alone.
We stay indoors in our gilded and not so gilded cages. We look out and feel bad. We eat more to assuage our impotency and guilt. We work out, tiring our bodies and souls, lest we be considered fat, lazy, unattractive and stupid.
We do our bit to stay relevant, we do our bit to stay sane. We share memories, we share our lives, we share our fears, we share our happiness.
We laugh at the people who post pictures of themselves helping the poor and needy. We laugh but we don’t really help. If we do help, we wonder if we maintained enough social distancing. We help and we are happy. For altruism is a truly selfish act. It makes us happy. It makes us feel better than the rest who do not help. It gives us that space to condemn and judge others.
We go back to our faiths. We pray ardently even as we talk about science being our last hope. We wonder if we were stupid to not believe in God.
We fall prey to conspiracy theories. We scour the internet to debunk them. We laugh derisively at people who share these theories, wondering if maybe there is some truth to it.
And then you curse yourself for that moment of weakness. And then you wonder if it could be true because you live in an upside down world. A post-factual world. Where truth has different meanings. Where Goebbels is the new God.
You look at all your clothes, your shoes, your makeup and all the collectibles you've hoarded over the years. You put them on at midnight. You put them on wondering if you'd ever get a chance to wear them again. You try them on because you can’t sleep and you have nothing better to do.
You can’t sleep because you are scared. You worry if life would ever return to normal. You worry if your family will be safe. You worry if you will be safe. You worry if you’ll get infected and die. You worry if you would be that tiny percentage who dies soon after contracting the virus.
You worry because you see people suffering and worry that one day you might become one of them. You are hungry for news. We become internet rubberneckers. The numbers scare us and yet we are obscenely fascinated with them. It’s an addiction we can't seem to shake off.
We take to humour, however morbid or offensive it might be.
We are tone-deaf. We have genuine concerns and fears. We are vile. We are privileged. Yet we whine. We are a ball of contradictions.
We are what we are. Imperfect humans. Loved by a few. Craving for more.
Scared, hopeful. And a ball of contradictions.