Sunday, June 28, 2020

Lockdown 2013

It was Deepavali 2012. A few months earlier I had quit my job after working for 17 years because I had wanted to take a break to... just sit at home for sometime and not worry about clients, concepts or currency. I was trying to put together a dish in the kitchen, for the festival.

Amidst all the not-so-hectic celebrations at home, the husband whispered "Er... wanted to tell you something..". He added, "... Things are not going good at work... nothing final yet.. Just thought I'd tell you". 

"What.. What. Wha..?" I didn't quite get what he said because my mind was mentally prepared for..."I'm planning to book their tickets for...". He sat me down to explain that things were not looking good at his organisation and well.. he may not have a job in the next few months repeating the "nothing final yet" a few times. At that point, honestly, I just thought "Poga Poga Seriaayidum..(We'll turn out okay)" in Stand up Comedian Alex's words, and was just not prepared for a traumatic year ahead of us.
It was only when he came home one day, in the next year, to say that it was his last month at work and he'd paid for the next 3 months, did it strike me that life was not going to be the same.

So - I didn't have a job and so did he. For the next few months, we just sat at home and did nothing but browse job sites all day. Sometimes if we were lucky, a consultant or two would call, once a month. His former colleagues and associates disappeared in no time not even wanting to take a call including a gentleman who lived in the same apartment complex as ours.

A few months later, thanks to a kind gentleman on twitter who had put out a tweet on a possible job opportunity, I landed myself a consulting assignment. Working from home made it less stressful... but only for a bit. With a huge EMI, our savings were saying tata bye bye to us , fast.

For the next many many months, we would be in two different rooms and meet or talk to, once or twice a day. For everyone's sake, let me add that I acknowledge the privilege of having two different rooms in the house before folks pounce and point out this fact.(happy?)
I would work from mine and he'd read / watch some series on TV (No Netflix then!) from his. I had stopped running / working out and would sulk all day long. We had stopped stepping out for movies, occasional restaurant visits or even that monthly parlour visit. We had to cook up different excuses for not visiting our parents in two different cities. "Busy with Work (Lol!)" was what parents heard from us every time they'd ask us about our next trip.

But one thing was clear. Except for, may be one or two persons known to us, we were not going to tell anyone about our tough times. Not family definitely, at least to avoid the "Did you get a job?" or for that matter "Do you need money?", every time they'd call. Ofcourse it was only obvious to expect them to be concerned, yet, we were exhausted.
As for others - I was definitely not in a frame of mind to fix appointments with friends / people I have known for decades, to call and discuss possible job opportunities. I detested (still do!) the idea of fixing up appointment with friends to call. Like what are you? Some dentist? Sure, not all of us can take calls 24*7. One would simply expect people to disconnect incase they're unable to take a call, text back with a time that they'd return calls. Anyway, when people were not a call away, too bad. Simply not worth adding to my pain.
Not blaming anyone, I guess everyone's so busy or wanting to pack their day with whatever they're doing , including liking instagram posts or watching whatever-the-downloadable-series-that-was-hot-then, that it was rare to find that one person who you could CALL AND SPEAK TO, to help you find a job, then. Things were going downhill. For those wondering why I didn't seek professional help, honestly, I found it extremely boring to meet a therapist when I had reached out to one 15 odd years ago. The drudgery of going to a therapist was more painful than the pain itself. Yeah, there I said it.

Back to Lockdown 2013 - It was traumatic to say the least, sitting at home, all day, for the next 9 months. Stepping out for anything would mean spending money. We had to be frugal. My Consulting assignments didn't fetch great money but kept me busy on calls and on online, all day.

Finally one of us found a job. One had to take a huge pay cut because one was desperate. It was the most boring job of my career in a television channel but I had to go through the stress. I'd cry every single day riding to work because I had to sit thru' insipid ideas and bum nakkis. But as a couple, we started enjoying the daily routine. At work, I'd look forward to a text at 5 pm from the husband to choose between Red and Green Pasta. For the next one hour, I'd dream of coming back home by 6 for a steaming bowl of pasta that he'd have prepared before heading for a walk. There was medical emergencies in the family and he could devote time being the care-giver, for a few months. We were both waiting for that good news of the job market bouncing back. I was working in a Business News Channel and the only question I'd ask the Editor of the channel repeatedly was when he expected the job market to be active again.

Things started looking good in the second half of 2014. Though the husband and I lived in two different cities, we managed fairly well because we finally had full-time jobs! We had a repeat of the same situation of just one of us with a job, again, in 2016, 2017** but we were better prepared this time. It didn't hit us suddenly because the two years had taught us to be prepared all the frikkin' time for a layoff, stress, anxiety and so on. Everything was in control except for my health. Things had taken a beating with all the stress in 2013 and 2014 and it took a good 3 years and several doctor visits to get back to normalcy. And I'd smirk every single time someone from a family or friends' circle ask me about my weight gain wondering where all this concern went 3 years ago.

Oflate, (in 2020) as we're going through the most stressful time of our lives - I have been reading about folks going thru' a lot of stress sitting at home, reading about rising Covid 19 cases. Ofcourse one needs to seek professional help whenever one needs.
The point of my post is that if you're reading this - Please be there for your friends and family. A lot of people out there don't have jobs. They have been laid off. Please reach out to them and give them a call. No, don't expect them to tell you. Please ask how they're doing at work and how the situation is. Don't be a Thumbsup idiot*. Don't whatsapp them giving them a time to call and expect them to share their anxiety between 3-3.25 pm on Tuesday because it's Ragukaalam or that's the time you'll be free when not liking instagram posts. Do let them know they can call you whenever they want to, specifically to address issues. for eg discuss possible job opportunities. Actively search for job opportunities for your friends and share it with them. Yes, all of us are going through a hard time, but some are suffering more than you and I are. And above all, please let not their political leanings decide your support. Some months ago, there was a huge campaign against a set of people by a social media gang, and folks were urged to unfollow, mute and shame people. I was wondering - what if one of them was your friend and someone who you could've helped professionally as an advisor, mentor?And you as an idiot, chose to unfollow, mute, disconnect from them because of some social media thugs. Will the same thugs or a Modi or Shah help your friend get back to normalcy?
NO! Don't be an idiot.

I repeat - Please be there for your friends and family.

*Persons who reply with a Thumbsup on 1-1 message. What are you? Some Salman Khan-Akshay Kumar-Ranveer Singh type Ambassador for Thumbsup?

**I realised I had mentioned the year as 2016 when I wrote it initially. Corrected to 2017, just incase those reading again noticed this.

1 Responses:

Ms.B said...

Dear Blogewari, This is the case with many of us.There are people all over whats app or whatever social thing we are following..but hardly anyone knows what is happening with others.So many of us can relate with these situations.Please take care and I love your honest write up.