Heard of the Quarantine Fifteen? That’s the fifteen pounds of weight that you put on self-isolating at home during the lockdown. That’s me and the judging look my trousers give me each time I get dressed to go to work in the mornings these days. And I went to bed so happy with my weight loss progress just before the lockdown hit Karachi. While we slept, the world changed. While I slept, my trousers shrunk!
HOW TO SHED EXCESS BAGGAGE IN YOUR LIFE?
Personal fitness targets are not the only plans this Pandemic chucked out the window where my self-isolating self couldn’t get at. Tenth Anniversary travel plans with the missus. Oh, I’m sorry are these your plans? OUT THE WINDOW! Planning to blow a little cash on yourself? Sad. OUT THE WINDOW TOO! Just keep the Window open, said the Lockdown, I want to see just how much and how fast I can take your plans and priorities, things you used to think are necessary and toss them where you can’t see them.
For me, the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated Lockdown took sandpaper to my life and started scraping. By the time the Lockdown lifted, I emerged from my home rounder in girth but leaner and slimmer in perspective and outlook. My priorities completely sandpapered down to the simplest basics. Keep my family safe and protected. Keep my family healthy. Keep my family fed and the roof over our heads.
RAYS OF HOPE
And it was surprising for both my wife and me, to learn how little we needed in our lives and in our home, to keep us healthy and happy. The Lockdown added fat to my waist, but removed it from my home, my finances, and made our lives simple again; made us all happy in a strange way. It was the rediscovery of a simplicity my family didn’t know we had lost. And in the middle of the daily, fearful stress of apocalyptic news and rising numbers and fancy graphs that signaled the end of our world, that simplicity was a gentle ray of hope for a different future, a better way of living our lives.
A STRANGE NEW WORLD
The world I have reentered is at once familiar and threatening. Things we once took for granted are now luxuries. Planning seems impossible and survival is what we seem most focused upon. Going shopping is an exercise in paranoia. The act of leaving the house and going to work feels fraught and adventurous. Simple everyday human touch and contact are now dangerous and life-threatening. So, I return to time and again to the light my family and I discovered during the Lockdown; a simpler, ascetic life filled with meaning. And filled with the kabab, imli ketchup chutney, and paratha rolls I make for the family dinner Family that have taken up residence under my belt.
HOW DO I PROTECT MY FAMILY NOW?
The magnificent beast that was the Pandemic is a shadow of its former self, cowering in my shadow by the window it used to dominate. Its once-mighty roar is a meek mewl begging for masks and social distancing, no longer as terrifying as it used to be. But I have decided to keep the window it opened ajar. The Pandemic did me favor; throwing so many things out the window and my life was the right idea. I think I can stand to throw out a little bit more. In the terror, the Pandemic inspired I’ve found something to protect and hold on to.
My wife and I are now more sensitive to other families that may also be struggling; we look for people to help, things to do. And that feels good. I’m proud of the way my family pulled out of the Lockdown more in touch with who we were as a family, with each other. A man’s home is his castle. I stand in its keep, looking over and past the moat to the gate and out to the still scary world beyond my castle walls. My thoughts are filled with protecting the people under my roof. I may still not be safe. But they must be.
THE NEW NORMAL AND ME
If I’ve learned anything from the three months past, I need to secure my family in case something should happen to me. To assume that I’m safe from COVID-19 because I eat a special leaf after each meal, live at a specific address, shove honey-coated roots up my nose, drink some spice and oil combo before I stand on my head or that I’m somehow just too special to contract this virus, is folly. So, I’m considering setting up some sort of safety net for my wife. I can scrape something together each month and put it towards funding a safety net, insurance, just in case. Life Insurance may just be the thing. I know there will never be a convenient time for my wife and me to start saving. Getting the policy right now, especially at this time with all that’s going on in the world, will mean cutting some more corners and tossing more things out the window.
But for a good cause, I think. I can hear it now – “An affordable life insurance premium on monthly installments! Now with added Covid-19 protection power!”– with a nice ad jingle.
And if nothing happens to me, I can make it out the other end with nice fat savings wrapped up in that life insurance policy and celebrate a return to some new form of normalcy. But first, I think the next thing going out the Window is greasy and fried food. Sadly.
Jalal H Curmally is an MBA by qualification, a HOD HR by profession, a BAE to his wife, and BFF to his friends. He aims to gather the remaining 16 letters then his collection of the alphabet will be complete.