Have you noticed how the flood of jokes and memes at the beginning of the lockdown have now dwindled into a trickle? There isn't much that's coming around even in the innumerable family WhatsApp groups, college alumni groups, apartment society groups and all the other groups one is a part of and not even regurgitations of the old ones and that is saying a lot when most mornings are spent deleting or forwarding on countless memes and things. For retired people and others who may have had lots more time on their hands, the Whatsapp forwarding was a way of life and even for them, things have slowed down.
Humour as a way of coping with disasters seems to have a limited shelf life, especially the easy humour that is just based on laughing away nervousness. In time, as the crisis extends, the humour evolves into more sophisticated puns and displays of genuine wit and leaves the baser forms of mockery-based fun behind.
For couples and people in relationships, this holds true even more as the early attempts to laugh things off and make it lighter are ways of reassuring each other that the discomfort and fear is short-lived. In many relationships, people find themselves in fairly clearly defined roles - there is the person who makes the jokes and the person laughing at them. You'll see it all around you, even in movies and books. The comic relief is a standard trope in many works of literature - even Shakespeare is full of them, and our own Indian classics have the close friend or the sibling who provides that little relief for the central character struggling in the throes of love, lust or other such feelings.
Failure to make something light or the failure to laugh at something is a sign then of things getting in too deep and becoming really serious. With the CoVid-19 lockdown gettong extended, people everywhere are recognizing the realiity that perhaps there won't be much flying at all this year, no holidays out anywhere, no short weekend treks, no get-together or casual birthday parties or brunches for months, no escape from each other, no visiting parents or others in far away places - the reality of being where we are and learning to be ok with that much stops being funny at some time, and we are there now.
Couples who are living together and actually liking each other are recognizing how deeply grateful they are to have that. People who like each other but aren't with each other and are locked out of each other's homes are recognizing how much they miss each other. People who don't like each other much or even hurting one or the other, and those who are truly vulnerable to violence are finding how desperate the situation is and the casual humour often just doesn't have it any more to lift us up.
We need more. We need love to hold us, and hopefully we will find it, even when it is difficult.
As written for The New Indian Express
Ajanta, Mahesh and other InnerSight counsellors and guest contributors are happy to share their thoughts here.