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A Year of New Normals

The interesting thing about normalcy is that it isn’t normal

Many commentators have called this year a complete annus horribilus, which isn’t an exaggeration. Normalcy became a farce, a virus traversed from east to the west, from oceans to poles, which ravaged life and led to so many new normals. Masks what an awful thing, they mar the sight of people’s frowning, sighing, smiling. All you see through them is just a pair of eyes, revealing so much than pretending to hide, but chances of judging others on the basis of the brand, style or design of their masks wasn’t a point of talking, people seemed to realize. Handshakes reduced to a mere gesture which was ambiguous like those flowery poetries that won Louis Gluke Nobel this year.

But for the elder ones, the campaign for raising awareness about covid became no less than a drive to warn them of their imminent extinction if their species interacted with the younger ones. Those old men sitting outside a chai shop or a common place with people of all ages, sharing insights of almost everything suffered a loss they never realized was something valuable to them. Cities are more caring if you have got money theoretically at least in terms of wanting and getting it in mean time. But in villages, your ambitions don’t energize or keep pushing you, it’s mostly your vulnerabilities that try their best to break you but overcoming them becomes a direction to head towards. For the old men here, they wouldn’t get much in terms of wealth or respect, but a sense of belongingness even to the fault lines, it isn’t that their vision is so impaired that they are out of sync with whatever happens in Delhi but they fantasize this and return to their narrow streets and open fields, to calumnies aimed at those who call them out for their mediocrity or their struggle of seeing change but not changing apparently as it wasn’t meant for them.

My own grandmother has been in home for eternity, once in a while used to visit her daughters for whom she arranged marriages in the nearest towns, which she flaunts unapologetically, said one day “I feel so bored, this sense of protectiveness as this virus is sent by Yamraj to wipe off our population has become asphyxiating now”. Like I said she would go out for two to three times in a year now felt chained. For her it wasn’t any new normal. It was a usual normal with a fear looming over. She never realized that life for her always was this much tedious in which she was so many things to so many people but nothing for herself. Her breathing was regulated when she was born in an extended family as the oldest child further exacerbated by her being a woman. The moment she was made to stay home, never sent to school, how her thoughts were shaped to sacrifice her life in the name of some stranger whose misery will be hers forever, how she was made to behave as a mother to her brothers who were privileged of having been to school and finally she was married off at an age now teenagers learn lessons through heartbreak and hormonal changes.

The thing is she too might have wanted a life different maybe, where in place of rearing cattle or soaking in sun to fetch grain to home could sit and contemplate about how people in Delhi lived. It is unrealistic to me when I hear the most preposterous things said about people of her age that she couldn’t simply imagine, we all imagine, but it would be fun to hear from a woman so far away from Delhi born at the peak of the quit India movement and danced when radio broke out the story how Nehru stunned the world with his beautifully minted” tryst with destiny”, which didn’t mean nothing to her, they meant but she just only couldn’t understand what was the chutzpah about. She cried when Gandhiji was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic, when the nation and peace exponents around the world mourned. She even acknowledged things about which she hadn’t had an iota of idea but accepted this rare trait, she is so egoistic sometimes when she tells proudly that she had 3 buffaloes, 2 cows, a calf, a pair of sheep, 50 Bighajameen , five children with three daughters and an ailing husband, how she toiled from dawn to dusk. How she would step out to sell milk when it was a disgrace to the family name when women negotiated prices of even dignified products as paneer or milk. Yet she accepts that she hasn’t been to Delhi ever but that doesn’t mean Nehru never delivered the first speech of independence, she hails emergency as Indira’s efforts to unite and bring order to a disoriented nation, she has never known the details but she is aware of the truth the all India radio brought or then Doordarshan showed.

She was in a bubble but she knew of the outside world in which her world was floating and even expected it to burst when something sharp would cut through, that happened with roads, more schools, TV, later mobile phones (she owns one) and now covid. She knew she was suffering and enduring and she must have complained to someone, but she was never told it was a new normal. It was her fate simply she would mull. But with covid, she was made to recognize this or that normal. She wasn’t told she was eroding when she was tied irreversibly to the whims and fancies of others but now she was. She never yearned for liberty this much than in the wake of the pandemic.  Even when she will receive a shot or two of the vaccine, she wouldn’t head to the much touted normal-normal but she wants to shut this condescending manner she is told to be breathing fear. Normalcy is redundant she says, nothing is normal she believes it changes all the time, in her time taking a long veil was normal then her successors found other innovative ways to cover their heads  only when the elders were around. For her watching Ramayana was gifted by Doordarshan as a new normal but for those who acted; the handsome Ram and resplendent Sita accompanied by exuberant Laxman and loyal hanuman, was a new normal.

If vaccines don’t reach her it would be a new normal or the other way. Normalcy is a farce, sometimes normals hit tenuously sometimes they come crashing upon the plans of the Human elites as unprecedented. My grandmother just is fed up of these adjectives to the various kinds of normals. I personally found this year as the most destructive one not in terms of lives and livelihoods but self determination. But if I keep whinging even on the last day, I will curse myself more for not finding good in the worst of situations, something ludicrous yet wanted like faith is to many, it exposes how much we fear yet at the same time, we want to keep hoping for a change. So hope for a better day, calmer night, an afternoon of leisure beckons, where I will try to find what I never lost yet I know this isn’t real. The more I step out the more my little world shrinks and the more I’m drowned in this ever decrepit of time and shape. So hope is what shall be my defense. A new adjective to normal should derive my mobility. On that note, Happy New Year!  


Published by Shiwangi Sharma

I think of being creative & Think again and something like that. A heavy dreamer, A dreamer who's battling to become a doer, someday I hope! Silent observer, ramble in my head, tennis 🎾aficionado but not a crazy fan either, Reading & a little less often writing are my things! More funny than I sound, if that makes any sense? Clear skies & sunsets, love stars but not moon, it's overrated.

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