This period of lock down and social isolation would be something else altogether if it had happened even ten years ago when internet and smart phones were still items of luxury. Here and now, billions of us are connected on our phones and constantly checking on each other, loved ones who are far away and keeping an eye and a ear out on the world through our screens. Memes pop up minutes after a controversial speech, old movie songs and comedy routines are dressed up to give new meaning in the current context and circulated endlessly as they strike a chord with the people reading them.
One gif in particular has two corgi dogs yipping and growling at each other, presumably without any trigger as there are no toys or food or anything around that they might otherwise be fighting over, and there is a caption: "Me and my partner on Day 12 of the lockdown." There are a number of such memes going around, largely focusing on how we are likely to bicker and fight over nothing at all after so many days locked down together. Without any absence to make the heart grow fonder, this much proximity does take its toll and we would certainly start bickering and fighting - not necessarily because we are upset with each other, but because we are feeling our helplessness and powerlessness with the situation and that frustration needs to find an outlet. If we aren't consciously looking for an outlet, then we would end up fighting.
Think of it as a long car trip. You are driving and your partner is in the front seat with you and you have three kids in the back. After about ten minutes of looking out the windows, another half an hour with a comic book or a game, they would inevitably start asking "Are we there yet?" and then start pushing and shoving each other, getting rowdier and calling out to you to mediate and since you are busy focusing on the road, you are likely to shout and yell, buy a few moments of sulky peace before the cycle repeats over and over. How do you stop the cycle?
People who have done these car trips would tell you: Make up some games! It might be "Spot the cow," or a little bit of antakshari or more competitive things like, "Name, Place, Animal, Thing." Some kids would do challenges like naming things in any category starting with a letter and literally any category like names of gods or beverages. The games would go on for half an hour or much longer, till people fall asleep or there is a restroom break.
The journey passes more peacefully.
Being locked down is something like that, only we are the kids in the back and God knows who is up front in the drivers seat. We certainly might get shouted at or worse if we misbehave, and we have to make up the games ourselves for the most part, or bicker like those two dogs.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.