3 July, Dubai, UAE

By Mrudvi Bakshi

This particular morning, I woke up yearning to revisit some of my childhood memories, perhaps in an attempt to find some optimism in these turbulent times.   Pulling out my journal and sharpening my pencil, I let those good times roll on paper – my first dance at school, first fight with a classmate, the big fall that left me with a broken tooth or the painting competition that fetched me the first prize. Memories came rushing back and I jotted them in the pages of my journal as if it were just yesterday. The one where I got my elder sister into trouble for something I had done made me feel guilty for a bit but deserved a special mention.

An undeniable sense of relief engulfed me, as I unfolded these beautiful stories of the past.  Honestly, during the last couple of weeks, my mental health hasn’t been faring too well. While some days are manageable, others are emotionally exhausting, triggering a sense of anxiety, frustration and irritation. 

Dubai is now completely open for business and while everyone seems to be out acclimatizing to the new normal, here I am still cooped up indoors trying to find legitimate reasons to step out. With work also substantially slowing down, I’m finding it difficult to clock in even two hours of work on a daily basis. 

It’s now late in the afternoon and I decide to ring up my Nani in India. A zestful woman in her 80’s, she tells me how the lockdown has ruined her otherwise healthy lifestyle by impairing her walking routine. She then goes on to whine about how the incessant rains in Mumbai over the past few days have wreaked havoc in a city grappling with its staggering COVID-19 cases.

As we speak, I see her struggling to switch to the video mode, insisting on showing off the cat shed she built for her four strays, rescued earlier this year. 

Nani, an ever so benevolent, mischievous and fun loving person always manages to light up my day, while she narrates some funny incidents that took place over the last few weeks.  

After an hour-long conversation we say goodbye. She looks at me with expectant eyes and says,

“It was wonderful talking to you beta, keep calling, you kids are all I have.”

“Love you, Nani,” I say.