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While realising that she was privileged enough to escape the worst of the pandemic, the author speaks of how they coped with another related disaster.
The year 2020 was nightmarish for hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Men, women, and children, young and old, fell victim to a powerful but invisible deadly enemy. Life is never going to be the same again for all humans inhabiting various corners of the planet.
This is neither a sob story nor a tear jerker. But the pandemic has left an indelible impression on my personal life. In fact my (read our) troubles had begun much earlier. Only COVID-19 acted as a catalyst.
My husband works with a private company as a video and web techie. The CEO of the enterprise runs ventures in other towns too.
In the autumn of 2019, precisely, he went on a business trip to Ahmedabad. Initially, things were smooth and salaries were disbursed on time. However in late February 2020, he suddenly went missing.
Just after lockdown had been firmly clamped, we learnt that there had been an attempt on his life by his rivals, after which he was found by the roadside in a comatose state and hospitalized. Unbelievable but true.
Since he was unable to sign the cheques, money flow stopped abruptly. So one fine morning we found ourselves nearly penniless as for any monies coming in.
I was shell shocked and demoralized. At this point my husband adopted an air of Micawberian optimism (“something will turn up”) and pulled me back on my feet again. Coming to the brass tacks, our personal lifestyle underwent many changes. We were compelled to delve into our savings for the simplest of expenditures. Thankfully our daughter, a practicing physiotherapist, also chipped in.
Between the three of us, we exerted ourselves to save every penny we could. We began to economize wherever we could.
For instance we made it a point to turn off all electrical appliances and gadgets when not in use, to curb power bills. Rather than buying vegetables from pushcarts, the partner would visit the mandi to procure stuff at pocket-friendly rates. Costlier and exotic veggies were given a miss. Wherever possible, peelings and seeds too were used to create variants of basic dishes. Fruits we could not afford since they are costlier than veggies even in the best of times.
As for groceries, from A grade commodities we started using B or C. Pulses being highly priced we opted for legumes, soya nuggets et al. We cut down on spices (particularly aromatic ones) too, using the bare essentials. This indirectly made the dishes healthier.
For beverages we used good quality milk powder instead of fresh milk without comprising on taste. I recycled cooking oils as often as possible. We stopped buying white/brown bread, switching over to hand rolled chapattis which worked out cheaper as source of carbs.
In this manner we learnt the valuable lesson of thrift and cautious expenditure. Though we happen to be foodies, yet in the wake of COVID-19 through lockdown and till date, we scrupulously avoid commercial stuff – from pakodas to sweets and namkeens, fizzy drinks to baked products. Eating out at specialty restaurants came to a grinding halt. Even the mandatory bingeing during Durga Pujo was scrapped.
The fallout of this was: I managed to shed almost 10 kgs, and thus control my overweight to a certain extent. My self confidence got a boost.
In retrospect, I thank the heavens above that we managed to escape unscathed from the clutches of the deadly virus. It is even more gratifying that despite meagre resources we did not go without meals, had a roof over our heads without having to “beg borrow or steal” as they say.
2020 infused a spirit of equanimity, serenity, and cohesiveness in our hearts and minds. It also reminded us of poet Shelley’s immortal lines, “If winter comes can spring be far be far behind?”
Image source: a still from the Hindi short film Ghar ki Murgi
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