Being alone, together

About six to eight weeks ago, I was returning to my Juhu apartment after meeting a couple of friends I went to school with. It was late at night, wind in my face. While I usually have my earphones in place, a soothing Hindi song playing in my ears, that day, this wasn’t the case. I’m a journalism student. So, of course I had been reading about the then situation in China in the papers. But, it was on that night that I realised the gravity of the situation, when the auto driver and I listened to the death toll on the radio. 

I am someone who loves to go out alone. Three weeks back I had my last solo date at the newly opened Perch in Mumbai. I’ve always dined at Perch whenever I travelled to Delhi, and so, I had to go visit their Mumbai branch as well. It’s always fun to dress up and take yourself out, while you judge the people around you, knowing that they’re mostly looking down upon you for eating alone (What’s the big deal?).

Even though panic had started to show in Mumbai, there were no clear signs of what was happening around us. It was a chaos, and somehow it wasn’t. Two weeks back, on the 15th of March, if I remember correctly, my father asked me to take the next flight and get home. I flew out of Mumbai on the 17th. A couple of days later, the entire country went into a lockdown, with many other countries following the same. Of course, ours wasn’t the first country to do so, but it was the first time situation for all of us. I’m an introvert—staying at home, reading, watching a film, writing are things I love to do. Having said that, I love the company of a chosen few friends, but I’ve always preferred being in my own space. That’s the kind of person I’ve grown up into.

But I realise only now that earlier, being in what I call “my space” was a choice. Now it’s the only choice. 

While I love being left alone, I’m thankful to my dad for making the decision for me and calling me home, because I couldn’t have done this all by myself. I live seven minutes from Foodhall, Santacruz, eight from Nature’s Basket, Juhu (don’t try and plot my location on a map), and I have the privilege to access these places. But do I have the heart to do it all alone? My heart goes out to people who are in this all by themselves. If I know you, and even if I don’t know you—if you’re reading this, drop a message if you want to talk (I’ll link my Instagram here).

I see on Instagram and Twitter how people are so connected with each other—friends and family. Everyone is having a house party, walking in and out of rooms and what not (I don’t know and can’t figure how that app works), everyone is holding meetings on Zoom, students are having classes. We’re all actively investing in phone calls, messages, FaceTimes.

May I remind you, there was a time we took all of this, and sometimes the people we engage with, for granted. And now, suddenly, we’re not.

We’re making phone calls, texting our exes (not me!), apologising to people who we should have apologised to quite earlier only in search of a connection. We surely realise that none of this can replace the physical touch. Of course we’re going to hug our friends tighter, kiss our loved ones harder, make a lot of eye contact with people we have dinner with once things settle down. But while the world has come to a standstill, we need to realise that it’s still important to create memories, stories. Because these are the very stories we will be passing on to the generations to come.

It’s very difficult to find happiness and stability in such times. And having said all of what I’ve said, to be honest, my situation or this piece that I’ve written are very, very, unimportant because we have a global situation at hand, which is probably larger than we anticipate it to be. But, at the same time, it’s important to realise that the crow could drink water from the clay pot only because of the small pebbles it threw in. What I mean to say is that it is very important to keep our mental and physical health intact in times like these so that we are able to actually implement social distancing, rather than having to run to the doctor.

Anger, pain, sadness—these are all human emotions, and all of them (and more) are inevitable. What’s also inevitable, and in our hands, are joy, happiness, a smile on the face, in the mirror.

I am someone who has always recognised the fact that I’m privileged. I could take a flight and come home. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would’ve been like had I been staying alone in that Juhu apartment. So these things that I mention, about joy over sadness, are more practical for me than people staying alone. But I hope we can try. And since we’re alone, the only person pushing you has to be you—it’s your decision whether you push yourself upwards or in the opposite direction.

About the writer

Being alone, together is a series by the humans at Bombay Balloon, through which we talk to you about our situations, scenarios, health in times of the pandemic. This is an initiative to reach all of and tell you that we’re all in this together and we’ll get out of this soon. 

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