Sunday afternoon to night my husband and Aravind were intermittently watching the one day cricket match between India and England while doing other work. I lost interest in cricket many years ago. I remember those days before the television when I listened eagerly to radio commentary. My country people are crazy about cricket and the stands are always full.
The sight of empty stands now seemed as eerie as the silence around us last April during lockdown. We did not step outside our gate for weeks.
My father-in-law passed away on March 24th. That night lock down was declared all over the country. Taking permission from the police my husband drove alone to our village in the neighbouring state. Aravind had to take online classes and there was no good internet connection in our village. He could not have stayed here alone, especially during a lockdown.
Just a few people attended my father-in-law’s funeral and other rites. My husband came back only on May 9th. The border between the two states were closed. It seems like a dream now.
Across the country countless people suffered, emotionally, physically and financially.
This year we were feeling relieved that there were only a few cases. Schools and colleges reopened. This month the number of cases
has gone up dramatically, but the death toll is thankfully low in India. We are re-living last year. But now we are not feeling as scared as we felt last year. No one had a clue what was happening then . We have lived through 2020. We know we have to take precautions; the virus is here to stay.
A few days ago someone said we cannot live in fear all our lives. We have to be careful and if something is to happen it will happen.
That evening we went to attend the evening puja in the temple to Goddess Mahishamardini, a form of Goddess Durga. The temple is not far from our home. It is quiet and peaceful there. We were going there at least once a month. During the puja, when the priest performs aarati, devotees ring the temple bells. At the same time just outside an old man beats a drum. In many temples the drum beating is mechanized. We have been seeing this old man for many years, we always greet each other.
The temple is being renovated, work would have been completed but last year life came to a standstill. Work is still going on. As we stepped out I told my son that the old man looked much older, he was a little bent and walking very slowly. Prayers were being offered in temples by the priests but the temples were closed for the public.
Life changed in 2020.