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‘Dear Mishti,’ How Writing Letters To My Granddaughter Helped Me Cope With The Lockdown

Posted: May 14, 2020

Time for all of us to live in the present and be grateful to the small joys of life. A new normal awaits us. We need to be resilient and embrace it.

March 23rd, 2020

Dear Mishti

As I sip my Taj Mahal in my favourite mug, a calm surrounds me. My Burma teak chair awaits me every morning in this small balcony. The fledgeling rays of the sun, nature, the birdsongs and company of chai and chair help me kick start the day on the right note. Spring has been kind enough to stay a little longer this year. My balcony is full of varied hues, each beautiful in its own way.

And, today there is someone new who has joined me. Your papa shipped an Mi smartphone that arrived this morning. I wasn’t keen to leave my old Samsung. So many memories attached to it!

Your dadaji gifted it to me on my 55th birthday. It’s been almost ten years we have been together. After his unfortunate demise in December last year, I have tried to stay afloat through these small things and their memories. But your papa doesn’t get that. Perhaps, he does but, he also wants me to get over that soon. He worries for me a lot, I know.

The solitude made me think of writing letters to you

Mishti, you know anxieties have this tendency of taking all our mind space but only if we allow them. But you won’t understand and need not, my child. How I wish, all of us could keep a child-like you within us always.

I like the new phone. And I am planning to take it with me and show it to my friends during the park time. Rama also has a Mi that she bought last month, and we had taken so many selfies. She is the joie de vivre of our group of senior citizens.

The novel Coronavirus and the pandemic – that’s all we are talking about these days. It was Janta Curfew yesterday. Everyone stayed indoors. No visitors, no doorbells. 

It was beautifully quiet – just me and my solitude. That’s when this thought struck to me to write you letters. I guess because I have always found comfort in writing. One day, when you grow up, you can read them and see things from your granny’s perspective.

Oh! I hear the doorbell. Must be Nimmi…

Lots of love

Your dadi

It is close now, close to us all…

March 26th 2020

Dear Mishti,

We all had been following up the developments in China but never had thought that Coronavirus would transcend boundaries. India has also started to see more people getting infected.

We are now in 21 day national lockdown to contain the situation before it becomes a calamity. It is deteriorating every day. The bad news is pouring from everywhere.

Italy is one of the worst-hit. Majority of the impact is to the senior citizens. People above 80 are left to die because there aren’t enough hospitals to take care of them. So, heart-wrenching Mishti. Today, I just feel like hugging you tightly, be with all of you.

Don’t worry; your dadi is only 65. Still young and full of life!

Life seems to be at a standstill

 A lot has changed in the past week here —the two kids whom I tutor have also stopped coming. RWA has advised senior citizens not to step out at all.

They didn’t even allow Nimmi to enter the apartment today. We get essentials delivered at our doorstep, thanks to the kindness of people. Life has now come to a standstill.

You know Mishti, I have seen a lot of turbulences during my life. One thing which has stood like true north is finding a silver lining to every dark cloud. Like, amidst all the scare, Delhi’s AQI has moved to very healthy. It was 20 yesterday. Isn’t it incredible? I am so full of positive thoughts when I write to you.

God bless

A virtual birthday isn’t the same but at least we spent it together

March 30th, 2020

Dear Mishti

Happy Birthday, my darling! We celebrated your birthday virtually. I am amazed at the wonders of technology. Honestly, I have not liked it much how it controls the human mind, kind of a dope. But it was fun yesterday.

So, you turned two—my tiny big girl. And my return gift was equally exciting. “Daaa deeee” you called me out over video call. Can’t tell you how much I craved to hold you in my arms, to feel the warmth of your touch.

We had planned to be together on your birthday, but God had other plans. India sealed its borders, and the air travel came to a halt. With a heavy heart, we had to cancel the air tickets. Your papa didn’t want to take any chance.

I am in complete self-quarantine these days. Though I am in constant touch with my friends, it doesn’t feel the same. We exchange WhatsApp messages every day, talk about the meals and our favourite TV serials. But it is hard- the Corona scare and this loneliness. Depression just seems to be laden like moisture in the air.

Nimmi was allowed to visit me the day before yesterday. She was in a hurry. Everyone in her basti was leaving for the village. I told her that she was welcome to stay with me. But she denied, I can understand.

Home is magical and everyone deserves that magic

Her alcoholic husband and an abusive relationship. Must be difficult for her. I didn’t want to separate her from her loved ones. I gave her a few masks, sanitisers and reiterated the instructions 100th time. She promised to call me once she has reached home.

I got so worried in the evening. The news was flooded with videos of thousands of migrant workers trying desperately to get to their homes – on foot, in buses, by any means. Home is a magical place Mishti. It means comfort, security and food—things that help us sail through such turbulences.

Talking about food, I am feeling hungry. I cook once a day now- saves energy, utensils and resources. These days WhatsApp has been flooded with so many memes and jokes on COVID.

Lockdown has generated a lot of work, especially for the women who are working from home and doing chores and care as well. I was fortunate in that sense. Your Dadaji always helped me with chores. He was an exceptional cook too. His baingan ka bharta, yum! I never liked brinjal but loved his signature bharta.

Let me cook that today. Will send pics on your papa’s WhatsApp. I am enjoying my Mi phone.

Love, dadi

A happiness circle was what we needed!

April 1st, 2020

Dear Mishti

Today your papa made me download Zoom app, and we tested it. He could sense loneliness in my voice, how I had been missing my work and the sisterhood circle. But I am so fascinated now. I even took out your grandfather’s laptop. The bigger screen helps the far-sighted people like me.

I feel excited thinking about the possibilities. Zoom sessions cannot replace the physical meet but still can connect so many of us at the same time and so well! I shared this with everyone over WhatsApp “Magic awaits you”. I am thinking of some beautiful name for this virtual circle. Hmm… How about “Happiness Circle?” Yes!

I always get so many ideas Mishti while writing to you. Why is that?

Thank you, Love

Technology can’t replace hugs but it can spread cheer

April 3rd, 2020

Dear Mishti

True to its name, the time we spend on Zoom cheers all of us. Technology cannot replace hugs, but it is a great help in these troubled times. It is so much fun. The circle meets twice a day. I am now planning to expand it to include other senior citizens in our apartment complex- the more, the merrier. And it is tough for everyone in these times.

Yesterday, we received cards from apartment kids – beautiful messages full of empathy and gratitude. I was extremely touched. Attaching one with this letter, you will know when you see for yourself.

Mishti, be a compassionate and empathetic human being before anything else. Admire small joys of life and be grateful for what you have.

Blessings always

I worry, the virus is coming closer 

April 5th, 2020

Mishti,

I feel sad and very concerned. There is one suspicious Corona case in our apartment complex. Seems, the virus is spreading and getting closer to all of us. The city has several containment zones now. Today, Rama didn’t join the Happiness circle. She messaged that she was sick with a fever. I am anxious.

Thank God, Nimmi called today. Everything is good at her end – getting food and supplies. I am happy that she is with her family. She is also earning some money by selling masks – something that will ensure that she remains independent and can manage her abusive relationship.

Yesterday, I took out my sewing machine and made a few cotton masks at home. I have promised Vinodji, the President, that I shall hand over a few for the underprivileged.

And I also took a tutorial on the Happiness Circle for the same. The circle members were so inspired, and a few have decided to take up the cause. Isn’t it nice Mishti?

Blessings always

I am just trying to spread the cheer

April 14th, 2020

Dear Mishti,

The lockdown has been extended till May 3rd. We saw it coming, but it does feel bad when you come face to face with it. Everyone is tired and anxious. Good news is Rama tested negative for Corona.

But she remains continuously worried about her son. He is a doctor and at the front line managing the crisis. Vibha’s son has lost his job.

Don’t worry Mishti, your dadi is fine. I am not taking worries on my mind and keeping myself occupied productively. Trying to spread positivity and cheer as much as I can. I have started making a dozen masks every day for the poor. Then, I keep them outside the gate, and the guard picks them every morning.

Another exciting thing – I have started writing letters to strangers. No, your dadi hasn’t gone crazy. So, someone had shared in our Happiness Circle about this unique initiative.

The Non-profit takes requests from people who need the comfort of words and connects with people who want to write. I picked it up from there. Though it is over emails during these quarantine days, so gratifying Mishti.

Do try making friends with words when you grow up. Lots of love

It was like coming home!

May 5th, 2020

Dear Mishti,

With due respect to social distancing rules, I stepped down and visited the park today. The sky looked azure and expansive, the grass luscious green, leaves more tender and trees more sturdy. It felt like coming home.  I walked barefoot on the green grass. It was heavenly, touching leaves and flowers; we even hugged trees.

Many areas are still under lockdown. Few like ours have got a little flexibility, like one hour in the park. And it is such a blessing!

Mishti, you can’t comprehend how much strength you have given me through these letters. Writing to you has comforted me and brought me closer to beautiful ideas I anchored upon to survive in these times.

There would be months which would go in getting things back on track, hopefully, less COVID cases but let’s live one day at a time. Everyone’s world has changed in the past few weeks.

So why not say ‘Hakuna Matata!’

Lessons learnt and realisations made. Time for all of us to take that forward, live in the present being grateful to the small joys of life. A new normal awaits us. We need to be resilient and embrace it.

I have decided to teach children of our domestic helpers social and emotional skills; something desperately needed, especially in post COVID times.

Mishti, tough times don’t last, but tough people do. We don’t need to think of all the misery, but of the beauty that remains.

Right now, Spotify is playing on my Mi and guess which song? Your favourite – Hakuna Matata. It means no worries for the rest of your days. I am singing along.

Spread Love and kindness always. I will write again.

Loads of love

Your dadi.

Picture credits: Unsplash

Present - North India Lead - Education, Charter for Compassion, Co-Author - Escape Velocity, Writer & Social

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