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Memoir

On the Bright Side of Marooned

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KENOPSIA

(.n) a place which has a bustling atmosphere otherwise, has become deserted, abandoned and eerily quiet suddenly.

 

It’s a new-fangled word which I chanced upon quite recently, all thanks to the pursuits propounded during downtime and this inescapable lockdown. I took upon one of them to building my vocabulary. Though this word was a novel one, the sentiment associated with it was not alien to me. I just didn’t have a name for it back then.

Looking back, in my school days, I had always dilly-dallied on the last day before it closed down for the academic year. While everybody just couldn’t wait to rush home or to hang out with their friends, the arcane sentimental in me would always wait it out until a major part of the crowd had dwindled. I would get captivated and drawn to the emptiness and vacuum of the classroom, which at one point of time would have been bustling with my frolicsome friends and classmates, my schoolmates and their full of beans laughter and cheerful screams all year round.

The hardest challenge to overcome emotionally was when I had to pass out of primary school and no longer had any reason to enter the place the coming year.

This obscurity overwhelmed me so much that I took a walk up and down the old wooden staircase to the floors above where I had first started my primary school journey and relived each classroom and the people I had come to know there and grow fond of.

Oh, talk about mush! The memories—The Good, The Bad and The Mischievous and also that I would never meet my teachers in the same way again swamped me.

That made me wake up and smell the coffee. This was just one phase and more were likely to come…and go.

And it did, three years later when I passed out of High School. A similar vagueness, but I had already familiarised and braced myself for it. Nonetheless, a strange sadness overran me. Standing there and gazing; pondering about how a place of an exuberance of a magnitude this large could possibly transform itself into one of an icy hush in a matter of minutes.

KENOPSIA it was! I was not an oddity. My emotion did have a name.

Today, history repeats itself, though I’m not a school-girl anymore. A short walk after lunch took me providentially to the space where I used to have one of my cardio Zumba classes before it got suspended by the awful corona virus scare, and by Lord! —it was cordoned off… like a crime scene!!! The upbeat music, the catchy tunes, the energetic dancing group, our bouncing steps, our lively chatter during break, the boundless enthusiasm… our happy place had been rejigged into a dead zone?!

It looked like a surreal ghost town!

Adding to the effect were dried fallen leaves, windswept grounds and unkempt grass around the area. It was KENOPSIA all over again.

Old habits die hard, but after three decades, technology had made it possible for me to articulate and immortalize this.

# Day 3, Darn it!!!

What else dawns on me as a lockdown??? When I have a ritual every evening at sundown to zone out and go sky-gazing, standing at my bedroom window. To spot the twinkling and pulsing lights of airplanes high in the sky ascending  into the clouds till they disappear or making their way down with people happy to touchdown and return home, as I would like to imagine.

But not anymore!!

No more airplanes are visible in flight. All I see are starlight and satellites sprinkled across the night sky like stardust, which I guess is all what nature intended for us to see in the first place.

“When life knocks you down, roll over and see the stars”.

Plus, what does a forced work from home scenario mean to me? Not much! I’m quite easy-going and adaptable. In the bat of an eyelid, I can switch from an ‘outdoorsy’ and a people-person who dances away her blues with a cardio Zumba and ‘Yogances’ with her workout buddies thrice a week (sometimes four) to be totally ‘indoorsy’. This indefinite distancing will make our reunion with social interactions increasingly cherished when all this vexation blows over.

In the meantime, hovering on the brink of it, it was quite a smooth transition to metamorphose into a recluse engrossed with my unfinished art. Or an incomplete read or writing for hours. These are now my priceless Zen moments. I’m on a road to self-discovery and tapping into my hidden potentials. Talk about a break in the dense dark clouds!

***

Making the best of my Mini-Me’s Home Based Learning!

Literature, the Language Arts, the Classics, the narratives, anecdotes and accounts across all genres has always been my first love. And what I’m missing most today, goes without saying, is to sit in a lecture room and listen to inferences of great literary works and their reviews, have discussions and delve deep into the world of the author’s mind. Fahrenheit 451 has held a great fascination for thus far which is Mini-Me’s reference text and upon her insistence I started reading about dystopia, something which I had not come across until now.

I had made it a point to learn something new, every day during this self-isolation. So, very resolutely and respectfully, I took it upon myself to follow her Language Arts timetable to the T. Much to her amusement, I pull up a chair, keep myself within earshot but! Most importantly, out of sight of the webcam lessons and as quiet as a mouse listen with great attentiveness hanging on to every word.

Isn’t that my dream come true!

This Circuit Breaker has been a blessing in disguise, if any, in more ways than one. Looks like I’ve been spending this slot of 45 minutes fruitfully, out of many others too, upgrading myself with something I’ve yearned for years now.

What else?! A home turned office scenario by my better half. Excuse my ignorance for being an absolute techie novice but here is our guest room which is installed and fixed with two ginormous monitors and keyboards to have teleconferences and video conferences. In all my better spent 19 years this is a first, to watch him do what he does in his line of work for the family’s sustenance. And boy! Am I impressed! But I’m shooed away once I’ve supplied breakfast and lunch inside.

With instructions in no uncertain terms, to not make the faintest of sounds and to not distract the both of them with even the slightest footfall, guess what I have been reduced into? A beached whale who lounges, reads, writes and naps all day.

Each one of us is in lockdown in 3 separate rooms doing what our jobs and duties demand of us.

As for me, I’m quite content with my Jack-of-all-trades’ hobbies, pursuing my passion for writing and also juggling my stack of unread novels. Right now, I’m on my very own Gone Girl, which I will read through a solo dinner and much later into the hours until I decide to call it a day and a night… full of sparkling stars.

***

That being said, I only need an alarm to wake me up at dawn to prepare breakfast before Home Based Lessons start. After which, I don’t need any clocks in my house nor do I have to keep time… until noon. For, exactly at 8.a.m. every day, a shrill jarring female voice spilling over with annoyance rends through the silence from the building opposite and unfortunately from the apartment facing right across my bedrooms. For the next 4 hours, I can be rest assured of an unrelenting whopping migraine and the non-stop varied sopranos of this angry opera.

Amid her pauses and also along with her as a chorus, there ensues another miniature version of her voice full of tantrums and stubborn bawling. Keeping her front door wide open, the shrieking female  voice reaches a crescendo and like the final beat of the drum, down comes a crash of a heap of utensils in a frenzied rage, a pile of heavy books following with loud series of thuds—presumably the long-ago ‘orphaned’ and abandoned homework. The grand finale stems with a tempo of a couple of disciplinary thwacks. And more exaggerated squealing by the miniature voice.

The Banshee is at it like a timekeeper. When all the whinnying and bellowing ceases, right on dot every day, I gather it’s about mid-day and also about time to have to have my lunch. It seems like she her schedule to give it all to her tonsils for its workout. Who am I to complain? Who am I to even applaud or criticize this performance???

But!!! I am a fiercely protective mother to my own daughter when voices float in more than they are supposed to and strictly trespassing when she’s taking an online graded exam. This continued nuisance had my girl wincing for want of focus during her Math test, which brought forth the ‘Lion Mom’ avatar in me. This just called for drastic measures and I did a high-definition ‘Mufasa’! With every ounce of vocals I own, jutting my head outside my window, I roared out a bass which I solely reserve for jackasses with a “Hey Idiot, you can shut the hell up now! We have an online school exam going on!”

I’m quite unabashed that way and the yodelling stopped in a heartbeat. Must have struck her dumbfounded when someone else owned a roar that tipped her scale of sirens.

And today? A jackass is a jackass is a jackass!!!

I have put away my clocks.

Things have suddenly gone dead quiet across, after an encore operatic session.

It’s time for my lunch. There is never a dull moment when I look on the bright side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sangeetha Amarnath Kamath (SINGAPORE)

Sangeetha Amarnath Kamath is a homemaker for the past 19 years residing in Singapore. She did her schooling and college from St. Agnes, Mangalore. She reads fiction and has now taken up writing, too.

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