I don’t know about you – but even my dreams wouldn’t have been able to concoct the saga that unfolded this year! Never would I have thought of having to spend months working from home, forget about the whole world doing that! Never has the world been united such as this – in its fears, worries, grief. And hope. And gratitude. Hope and gratitude are perhaps the one emotion that everyone has felt more than ever before. People became thankful for things they took for granted. And this has been a year when everyone has a story to tell. Let me tell you mine.
I took note of coronavirus last January when I got back to Almaty after a fulfilling holiday with family in India. My office has a large TV at the entrance, which is always tuned into CNN. I remember looking idly at the news of the virus spreading in China and then to some parts of Europe, but I had no idea that this virus was soon going to collide with my life as well.
Arnav and I were due to come to India end March, but seeing the borders closing everywhere, we came in a week earlier. Soon enough, Arnav’s school and my office went into remote working mode and within ten days the entire country went into a lockdown. So did many other countries.
An Unprecedented Lockdown
Though worrying, the situation got people’s adrenalin pumping. Everyone tightened their belts to fight the corona monster by staying at home. We felt lucky that all of us were together at such a time. We had a house full of people – 3 senior citizens, 3 adults and 3 kids! Despite the fear, the mood was upbeat. It seemed like an adventure! Outings for essential shopping felt like we were getting ready to go to the war front – armed with sanitizers, masks and gloves and an immediate bath on return. We divided our responsibilities for housework, timetables were drawn for everyone, and meals planned for the full week. Between our two mums, we had some great meals and most weekends felt like mini parties with chhola bhatura on one Sunday and idli dosa on another; paav bhaji on one evening and noodles and pasta on another. Mother’s day, father’s day, our anniversary, my mum in law’s birthday were all celebrated with cakes and a great spread! The family started keeping a daily (almost) journal of gratitude where we all shared what we were grateful for.
It was also a very busy time for me. I was getting adjusted to working from home, with the din of kids all around me and struggling with a not so optimal internet connection. The day was also interspersed with a number of household chores. And then there was the promise I had made myself last year. I had decided to take part in a daily blogging challenge last year. There was no free time. But there was a lot of sense of purpose. That got me through the challenge in April. My writing would begin at 11 p.m. at night and end by 2 a.m. It was an exhausting, uphill task but one that released loads of endorphins at the end!
By the time June rolled in, things started looking up a bit. Despite the increasing cases in the country, we felt secure, still holed up in our houses. Lockdown had started to ease, which meant that some house help could come in. This released us from our household chores and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Exhaustion was less, we had more free time and we even caught a few net series. Children were able to go down and play a bit. By July Kapil started to go to work and my in laws went back to Jaipur. We had settled into a rhythm though my anxiety about getting back to Almaty was increasing. International travel didn’t seem to be opening up and while I was able to manage work from home, it was not the most ideal. Work days stretched easily into nights and the line between work and home was getting blurred. Having 3 young kids at home, with nothing to do, meant constant distraction from work. The best time to focus on work was 11 p.m. onwards, when the house turned silent. Other issues started cropping up. My bank in Almaty was on the verge of closure and apart from the fear of losing my savings, it was getting increasingly difficult to pay my rent etc. However, July brought another excitement which kept me occupied – I had decided to convert my parenting blogs into a book and had found a publisher for the same. A short summer break in July saw me working on my book and I was relieved and excited once I finalized the manuscript and sent to the publisher!
But Then the Corona Monster Caught up with Us
“Abeer don’t go out. Corona monster will catch you!”, I remember saying this often in September. Poor thing had some freedom for a few weeks before we were holed up again. India reached its peak sometime in September, and it seemed that many people around us were getting infected, including in our apartment complex. My anxiety levels were rising and I had also started to realise that working into wee hours was not a viable option. The constant pandemonium in the house was also getting to me and I lost patience with my kids more often than I would have liked to. On top of it, Arnav started his new year at school and his struggles with online schooling were added to the disorder. The carefully crafted work schedule was long gone and it seemed that the chaos around me had also started to infiltrate my mind. Anxiety, stress and fatigue created a heady cocktail and I was constantly on the edge. I would get up in the morning with a tightness in my chest and a sense of impending doom. I remember a particular day when I was in the middle of a call and Anvay was wailing nonstop. My mother was unable to calm him down and his nanny was having a bath. Unable to leave the call I took my laptop in one hand and picked up Anvay in the other. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t manage both and dropped one. The laptop. When I guiltily informed my manager about the damage, he chose to look at the brighter side and reminded me that I should be happy I dropped the right thing!
Things only got worse from then on. We had the first case in our family – Kapil’s uncle was hospitalized and within a few days we lost him. Even before we could come out of this shock, Kapil’s mom complained of a cough. I told her to get herself tested, just so we could get that out of the way and not have to worry about COVID. But the corona monster had placed itself firmly in our path. Both the parents tested positive. We rushed to Jaipur. After two tense weeks, they finally tested negative and we brought them back with us. Since then, many of my close relatives have been through the same ordeal – but thankfully everyone recovered.
An Unexpected Turn
Things kept getting complicated. After coming up close and personal with COVID, we became even more careful. Masks up even when someone rang the doorbell. I never thought of how much panic a scratchy throat and mild fever could induce in me. Must have got tested 2-3 times at the slightest display of symptoms and started living by the 14 days rule – every time I went out, I breathed a sigh of relief only when 14 days passed without any symptoms!!!
Another problem arose after my landlady in Almaty got sick of the delayed payments and we had a falling out, resulting in my offering to move out of the house. So now I had the added worry of moving houses in a country I wasn’t living in!!! In between all this, my book launch came and went and I have barely had the time to promote it. (by the way you can buy it here.)
At the same time, India was slowly relaxing international travel restrictions and while a direct flight to Almaty was still not on the cards, I managed to find out a round about way to getting there. Elated at the prospect of finally going back, I booked our tickets for November end. Packing began in earnest in November and I started to finish all my outstanding work and responsibilities in India. One of the big ones was to arrange for the right equipment and accessories for Anvay. For almost ten months now, Anvay had been without physical therapy. Luckily, his therapy centre had just started face to face sessions and I booked an appointment with his therapist. She was happy to see that mentally Anvay was ready to walk but was perturbed by the tightness in his hips and recommended we see an orthopedic. To cut a long story short – we visited two different orthopedics, both of who recommended surgery of his hips. Difficult as it was, seeing a four year old go through two surgeries, there was no choice but to get it done. Needless to say, the last one month has been extremely difficult, more so for my little baby than us. But it is all in the hope that he will walk one day…… that’s my year end wish and my hope for 2021. Anvay will walk.
But it is in adversity that we count our blessings….
This year has been a tumultuous ride, and I have no idea how 2021 will be. But the one thing that 2020 has left me with is a sense of gratitude. It is in tough times that one finds their real friends. This year I felt stretched in many directions including across two countries. But at every step that I encountered difficulties, I found friends and strangers ready to help me through.
When we discovered that Kapil’s parents had contracted COVID, we were not only worried but also helpless, given we were a few hundred kilometers apart. Mummy was deteriorating rapidly and within hours of getting the report, her oxygen levels had started to dip. In those tense moments, I could only think of my childhood friend Shruti, a doctor now. She immediately took things in her hands and helped arrange an immediate ambulance transfer to the hospital. Both Shruti and her husband Mohnish, kept checking with the hospital staff and ensured that our parents got full care. The other pillar of support during this time was my little cousin Ashima, also a doctor, who advised us through this time. I continued sharing all their reports with both my friend and cousin and they kept me reassured that they were doing okay and were getting the right treatment. The hospital staff were also extremely caring and kept us fully in the loop without us having to visit the hospital even once. All updates happened over phone and whatsapp. I have no idea how we would have managed without these people.
Another set of gems I am lucky to have found are friends Shatorupa and Deepak in Almaty. When they realized the difficulties I was having with moving houses, they decided to help by being my eyes and ears. Along with my property agent, they visited multiple houses and helped me finalise one. Shatorupa even helped my housekeeper pack stuff from my old house. I am also very grateful for having found a great housekeeper in a foreign country who managed the entire move without my having to worry even a little bit!
And then there are a host of friends and colleagues who made payments on my behalf, because my own bank was in trouble. I would transfer money to them in India or the US and they would pay on my behalf in Kazakhstan. Towards the end, my colleague Cholpon who I am yet to meet, became my banker! I transferred money to her US account and she happily did all my payments in local currency. I was totally overwhelmed by her kindness to someone she had only interacted with virtually!
At a time, when many people have lost jobs or faced salary cuts, I am very thankful to be working in an organization that has taken full care of its employees all through. All kinds of support including emotional and physical was given to their employees working from their homes. When my laptop broke down, our IT teams from India and Almaty worked hard to get me a new laptop, despite the lockdown. I also feel very grateful to have an understanding manager and a very dependable team.
And finally, I am thankful to the universe, that conspired to ensure that during this difficult time we were all together. Since the lockdown, I have heard of so many cases when families were split across cities or countries because at the time the travel restrictions came into place, they were apart. At the time of lockdown, our family was scattered across two countries and four cities – Arnav and I in Almaty, Kapil in Delhi, his parents in Jaipur and my mum, twins and the nanny in Bombay with my sister. But as things panned out, eventually we were all safe and sound in one place before the world closed down.
So here we are – nine people – 3 senior citizens, 3 adults and 3 kids – all together in one house – belts tightened to fight any adversity that we may face! Amen!
My request to 2021 – please be kind to us and please be kind to the world. I think we have all had enough problems to last a lifetime in one year!
This blog post is a part of the Welcome 2021 Blog Hop hosted by Swarnali Nath.
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word!
Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
You can find me at:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tripleamommmyInsta: https://www.instagram.com/tripleamommmy/ FB page: https://www.facebook.com/Tripleamommy-2101887313189940
Do consider buying my book “Raising Capable Children” that shares hundreds of tips and ideas on bringing up confident children. See below for buying options.
India – Amazon: https://amzn.to/3j3QSrx ; Flipkart: https://www.flipkart.com/raising-capable-children/p/itm2134c13e7108f?pid=9789390267033