I come out to the grilled balcony of my ground floor flat. A self-involved couple lives in the flat on my left, and an office of a real estate agent occupies the one on the right. Since the lockdown, a peon lives there. Mahesh. I drink my evening tea as I look at the semi-greenery in front. The flats around look desolate. The pavement in front is empty. Normally, would have been evening-walked.
I wait for Mahesh to show up. We talk, from balcony to balcony, as we both sip our evening drink. I, my green tea; he, his black. That’s what he prefers, he says. I don’t know if he has money to buy milk every day with his peon’s salary. A distance of around three metres separates our balconies. We talk of the economy, food, health, Corona… in the evenings. He hasn’t shown up today. Yet.
I notice a masked man walking, carrying a big bag in the distance. Must be on his way to the grocery’s. He seems to avoid visual contact too as he treads.
Hello sir! Kya haal hai? I hear Mahesh’s voice. He calls me sir reverentially. Maybe because I teach in a college. We begin chatting. Lockdown, home, to eat chicken or not. Our distant balconies come close in the evenings.
— Manoj Hazarika
You have more time now
The alarm goes off. It’s 9 o’clock. Quick, get ready for office. Oh, work from home…no waking up early and travelling to the office. Yay! You get more time now. What do you do, you think. Go back to sleep. What time is it? 10? 10:30. Quickly, get your breakfast and take a bath before you change into your shorts again. The day starts with a meeting. You keep the video off then. Meeting over? Let’s get to work. Tired of sitting at the same place? Grab a mask and get some milk. Back to work now. But, now you are tired of staring into a screen. It’s okay. You have more time now. Take a break. Go for a walk. Right, you just dawdle in the hall! It’s evening already? Office hours are up, unpaid overtime starts. But first, you watch that movie that’s been waiting. After all, you have more time now. It’s night. The movie was amazing. But you are exhausted. You are going to sleep now. You can always work tomorrow. Because you have more time now.
— Ashish Poddar