Her mother was at the door just as she had imagined but instead of a 'thali' was a hand sanitiser! ''Good hygiene is a blessing in times of coronavirus, my mother told me,'' laughed the 37-year-old.
He hops off a helicopter, whips off his shades and makes a dash through the grounds towards his home to give his mother a surprise, but there she is, waiting at the door with a ‘pooja thali’ in her hand. That admittedly cheesy scene between Shah Rukh Khan and Jaya Bachchan from the blockbuster Hindi film ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham’ was playing in Sonali Puri’s mind when she was on a Mumbai-Jammu flight to give her mother a surprise last month.
Her mother was at the door just as she had imagined but instead of a ‘thali’ was a hand sanitiser! ”Good hygiene is a blessing in times of coronavirus, my mother told me,” laughed the 37-year-old.
That was in mid-March, a few days before the coronavirus forced lockdown began on March 25. And home in Jammu is where Puri still is, the short vacation turning into extended mother-daughter downtime, both recalibrating their equations as they spend focused time with each other after years.
This Mother’s Day, the first time in years perhaps that Puri has been home for the day, she said she is just happy she managed to spend this stressful lockdown period with her mother.
”I don’t remember spending this much time with my mother in the past 10 years. We play cards” she still cheats — watch old movies, cook, sing, dance and of course fight too. Everything like old times. ”The best thing is that with her being around I can be the child again, and with me being around she gets to be the mother again. Even the otherwise stressful work-from-home is not that bad with her around,? said Puri, a recruiting professional.
”The nationwide lockdown was first extended till May 3 and then till May 17 with a few relaxations built in.”
The uncertain weeks have seen everyone across the spectrum of income, age and gender trying to hold on to their constants’ in life. While lives all over are upended, home is the anchor, few like Puri are at home, lakhs of others such as migrant workers are taking unbelievable risks to get there and many are stranded longing for the day they’ll finally be there.
For Puri and many others like her, home is where family is, or maybe just where mother is. Those in connected India not in the same physical space in this lockdown period are reaching out to their mothers with many asks. Some are calling their mothers for recipes, some for advice and discussing the day’s events and others to just vent to a sympathetic listener who always understands.
”People have a whole laundry list on why mother makes for the best lockdown partner ever even in absentia. ” The pandemic has turned him into a ‘mamma’s boy’, admitted 27-year-old Ramansh Billawria, a lawyer in Delhi.
”Grocery shopping, recipes, bargaining with vendors and even basics like, ”what is done first, dry mopping or wet mopping”, Billawria is calling his mother in Pathankot in Punjab incessantly.
”I recently shifted to New Delhi for my job. Just when I thought I was coming to term with the pace of the city, the city as well as the country went into hibernation mode. ”I have lost the count of calls I made my mother during the lockdown. Had I been her I would have stopped taking the calls. Thank god, she is not like me. I have promised to treat her with Spanish eggs ? the one dish I learned without her help — whenever I meet her next,” said Billawria.
”For Simi Gupta, 35, who is expecting a child this July, to not have her mother by her side in the last two months of her pregnancy is ?unthinkable?. But this is reality and she is trying to cope with it, hoping that the lockdown is lifted soon and her mother can come from Agra to be with her when the baby is born.
”A daughter needs her mother the most during pregnancy. It’s not about work or anything else. Her mere presence can do a world of good. My husband and I are making umpteen video calls to her, checking about every minute thing related to the baby,” said Gupta, a Haryana-based teacher.
“Moreover, with the fear of COVID-19 all over, her being here would have brought a much needed sense of calm to me and my family,” she added.
” For Mother’s Day, her seven-year-old twin daughters with some help from their father are making cards for both — their mother as well as their grandmother.” ”The other day, one of my daughters came to me and said we will celebrate once the chotu is outside you and nani is inside our house,” Gupta recalled with a smile.
” It doesn’t really matter how old you are. ”Vandana Thapa, a homemaker in her 40s, is worried about her mother’s health, a dialysis patient, and is desperate to meet her. ”It is for the first time in many years that my daughter and I are here in Delhi and not spending the summer holidays with my mother and father in Dehradun,” she said.
” The comfort of being home is special, say men and women of all ages. Juggling house work, office pressures and the stress of living through a pandemic is tough. But a call from home or to home can puncture the stress balloon.
(May 10, Sunday, is Mother’s Day).