Community/ The Quarantine as an Opportunity to Reflect on the Self

The coronavirus pandemic has opened the windows for reflection and contemplation, and made us revisit all that we took for granted.

Image by Alfons Schüler from Pixabay

My daily routine during the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown started quite stressfully but as the days are passing I am noticing a few changes in myself. I may call it a kind of self realisation, a kind of occasion to strike an intimate conversation with myself. It is these moments of quarantine that have compelled me to reach back my own inner self and at least to confront the person that I really am. I also realise that in our busy, urban routines we have been running all the time in search of ambitions, money and fame but we have become very empty from inside. Let me take this opportunity and share  my experience with you. The blue sky for hours through the window: I feel amused looking at how clear and clean it has become, I begin to lose myself in its infinite horizons. 

I realise that the sky was always beautiful and infinite, but in the rush of the city life I had forgotten all about it and my eyes had forgotten to turn towards it. My eyes have begun to search for the infinite sky once again. Meanwhile I am also finding a deep sense of peace as the constant churning of  birds reaches my ears in this city space, perhaps the loud and destructive discourse of hyper development has still not been completely successful in suppressing the voice of nature. We all must have experienced similar moments in our childhoods. I recall the times, especially in the summer days when while lying down with my mother in hot afternoons, I would hear similar sounds, as if they were tempting us to come outside and play. Many years later, these sounds seem to be reaching my ears once again.

The infinite sky and chirping of the birds gives me peace, an eternal sense of calmness and a moment of deep meditativeness. Has the addiction of the hyper modern and aggressive urban life, made us deaf and blind to the language of nature?For me these moments are eternal but at the same time they also look unbearable. 

I call them difficult and unbearable because they ask me too many questions – the question that I have not been allowed to think about or even imagine.  Who am I? Am I just a professional, a husband, a father or just a citizen of a country? What else am I? Society has never allowed me any chance to explore myself.  I have never found the time to talk to myself or do what I want to do beyond any loss and profit. It is a hard truth, but today I end my calling myself irrelevant and cowardly. I am someone who never dared to look beyond the social structure, beyond the boundaries that society has set and the expectations that the world has had from us. Our whole lives are spent in running in the rat race of material fulfilment.

And what kind of relationship do I have with my wife and child? My existence for them is just a matter of financial security and society has decorated this ornamental and utilitarian relationship with words like parent and husband. Do we really help ourselves create these relationships meaningfully? Do we relate to others on our terms and not artificially or out of compulsion and societal obligation?  Do we know the essence of togetherness or celebration of moments beyond any material gifts? 

This quarantine is very precious to me. In the coming days we all will return to our normal lives –  our daily routines, anxiety ridden moments at work, tiresome moments in the endless traffic jams. All this would once again start but something would have drastically changed, atleast for me. The next time I am caught in a traffic jam I will not forget to look out of the window of my car towards the infinite sky and hope that it continues to remain beautiful, deep and blue forever.

Anish Singh is based in Delhi.

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