The new normal


Just like people all over the world, our family is also trying to adapt to this new norm of staying at home. Thus far, we each had our own lives, our own routines, our own meetings, assignments and to do lists. We met at breakfast or scrambled for the bathroom or went around the house shouting and squabbling or teasing, looking for last minute things before leaving home to meet the challenges of our everyday lives.

Now, in this new world that we inhabit, there is no crazy rush in the mornings. By 9 am we have all drifted away to our own rooms and work tables to exist in a virtual world, where online lessons and meetings rule our days.

I tread silently through the house and navigate the kitchen like I am a spy. But then, the inevitable happens. A steel plate crashes to the floor and….the ting ting ting reverberates across the house and enters the virtual world that my family inhabits.

My son pops out and hisses…my husband says shhhhhh. I mouth a sorry…and get back to my work. As I pass through each door, I hear long conversations happening and periods of silence. I gently open the door to signal that lunch is ready.

At lunch time the virtual dwellers come alive in the real world and we have animated discussions about food, and discuss how the Covid situation is unfolding. Thirty minutes later everyone is back to their rooms, their minds travelling to new realms, as their bodies swivel in the chairs.

It is time for coffee. When I enter my husband’s room, his chair is twisted at an odd angle. Without realizing that my husband is on a call, I walk in and hand him his cup of coffee, only to realize that my hand is visible on a video call, with 16 people watching. I am mortified, and make a quick exit.

Courtesy – shutterstock.com

Later, I ask my husband why he was sitting at such a weird angle that I couldn’t see his screen. Then he says, “If I sit straight, all our suitcases on the cupboard are visible on the call…so I had to twist so that the background was the wall.” Aha…another new thing to think about.

All these days, we brought home bits of our lives from the outside into our homes. Now, in this new world, we unknowingly share bits of our lives and homes with the outside world. We become conscious when family members are around. We worry about Wifi and charged devices.

Finally after 6 pm, the virtual world begins winding down. The family troops into the kitchen in search of chips, chocolate, ice-cream. They raid the fridge and complain – “Is there nothing interesting to eat?” Dinner time is somehow different as we seem to be talking more. After dinner, we have time for a quick family board game.

The sky is dark, the stars are out. We pray for all those suffering. We pray for a solution. We pray and call it a night.