Letter for Parents
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Lockdown opens door for

Lockdown opens door for

It was sometime in the last week of January when India reported its first positive case of COVID-19, and today, while I write this blog, we witness over 26,000 positive cases, with the numbers going up by more than a 1000 with each passing day. It has been a little over few weeks since we, as a nation have been actively practicing social distancing and when I look back to that last week of January now, it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is still far away.

While the sufferings of this pandemic aren’t unknown to anyone, it is intriguing to note the range of it. On one hand, the affected patients and their families and friends are at the utmost center of this pandemic, on the other hand, the impact it has had on the world economy at large and the pressure it has created on the healthcare establishments and healthcare workers of the world is huge. But this isn’t it. There have been major implications at narrower levels of our ecosystem, and individual mental health is something that holds a lot of weight in this discussion.

The imperative need to isolate oneself from public gatherings has left people with a lot of spare time confined within the spaces of their homes. This is unusual for most of us wo have been used to a busy life – both personal and professional. The socializing culture, especially for the educated middle and upper-middle class in the Indian context has seen a paradigm shift in the past decade. A considerable section of our population had come to terms with the concept of “work hard and play hard”, essentially translating into a remarkable difference in the way they would spend their “weekdays” versus the “weekends”. However now, with the organizations asking their employees to operate remotely out of their homes, schools and colleges shutting down necessitating the need for virtual classrooms, suddenly the time being spent at home has increased. For the most part of this lockdown, a lot of us spent a great deal of effort figuring out what to do with all this time that we have, and while I too struggled to chalk out a plan for my daily routine initially, I think I have become more aware of my day and myself lately.

Amidst the constant hustle from Monday through Friday and the motivation to unwind on Saturday and Sunday, it never struck me that I didn’t notice the finer details of life. I listen to the chirping of the birds quite effortlessly.  Today, that 4 p.m. tea is not a reminder to my cerebrum to not snooze, but, is instead a reinforcement to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, just like the chirping of those birds. I have come to feel a sense of gratitude for the time that I get to relish the food that I am privileged to have on my plate, and in-turn, feel compassionate towards the ones struggling for it. It is heartening to witness the inert happiness I see in the eyes of my mother throughout the day, only because she knows I am around and she isn’t alone at home, waiting for me to return from work so that she could ask me how my day was. The sheer accessibility to sit with her and watch the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and talk about all the great stories of our ancestors has made me appreciate the place we come from even more. As I navigate my way around the house chores, there is a deep realization that just the monthly salary that we paid to our domestic help for her assistance was probably not enough – maybe a word of empathy and a verbal recognition for her services complimenting the month-end payment would have gone a long way in keeping her spirits high through the mundane nature of her job.

Having said this, I realize that my proclivity for education and the absolute pleasure I derive from interacting with my team of teachers and students has remained constant, thanks to the technology. It has taught me that learning never stops and is evolutionary in every possible way. I was amazed at the agility of the teachers, the students and the parents to adapt to newer ways of teaching, learning and interacting. It is almost surreal to see the effort that each of them has made to keep the process effective and consistent, and while I do miss the personal element amid all of this, I have personally grown fonder than I ever thought I would of this new arrangement. There is a certain level of satisfaction knowing that the pandemic might have displaced us all from our “comfort zones”, but, it has truly prepared us for rapid changes and has increased our appetite for upskilling ourselves into better professionals and quicker learners.

This brings me to acknowledge the ocean of opportunity that this lockdown period presents to the inquisitive and malleable minds of the children and teenagers who are spending their school hours at home attending online classes in the fond company of their parents and guardians. Although the great minds of the world would talk about how it is important for them to use this time to enhance their physical and cerebral skills for the future that awaits, I’d like to ask them to start small. Learning essential life skills and getting comfortable with the concepts of sharing and time management will go a long way in nurturing a better and brighter future where their judgment to differentiate the right from wrong and white from grey will play a pivotal role in their journey towards becoming compassionate and kind individuals. According to me, it is a wonderful period for the parents and guardians to put in some truly millennial ideas in perspective, such as – sharing the load, sensitization towards gender equality, inclusivity and most importantly respect, perseverance and gratitude.

On a concluding note, I have realized the power of prayers, the strength of unity and the contentment of working towards the greater good over the last 4 weeks that have gone by. I am hoping that we all will come out of this as stronger and more responsible versions of our self-aware selves.

Parul Mittal

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