The new institution of Human life….!!!
Ranju Vivek Gulati
Lockdown gave each one of us a golden opportunity to connect to friends with whom we had lost connect. One of my school days friends had moved alone to Mumbai a few years back. This migration is a usual phenomenon amongst the working professionals these days. I called up her during the lockdown and the call changed my thought process permanently. My first question to her was- How is life in metro? Without even wasting a moment she started ad nauseam like a bumble bee mentioning about the entire cast of the Bollywood movie (Life in a metro) appreciating some and criticising others.
Initially I was stunned by her response but suddenly my horses started galloping back towards our school days when we used to tease her giving her nick name “Box office chatter box”. Luckily her chatter halted momentarily so that I could clarify my question to her that it was not about the movie but about her life. With mixed feelings in her speech I got the reply – Do you remember the birthday prank we used to play in our childhood with a gift box with a box inside and another box inside and finally it is empty. She sighed a bit and a quote came out straight from her heart “It is life in box (house), it is life in another box (television) and the life is limited to another box (mobile)”. Our phones microphones suddenly burst into a shell of laughter.
She was true – Our life is limited to face book, Twitter, Instagram with thousands of friends and for some the number even runs into millions. Still each one of us is lonely in this virtual world. I could feel the depth of gloom in her voice which echoed in my brain and made me sob- Yes we are all lonely- True with so many faces on FB but we cannot see a real face, Twitter to tweet but it lacks warmth of face to face conversation and photos with air hostess smile on Instagram but this is truth of today just like new normal of social distancing, this is the new reality.
Social distancing may be a new norm in COVID era but it all started much earlier with the fall of joint families and the slogans like “My space and your space”. In joint families we used to have space for everyone from widows to bachelors and people used to talk their heart out and society never needed counsellors or mental health specialists. But with the technological invasion, we started relishing social distancing which started with distancing from neighbours and gradually entered our houses with separate rooms for everyone. But the silver lining was that we could at least see people around, but this COVID has emptied the already existing empty spaces.
We cannot be the change as far as the societal institutions are concerned but we can inculcate and practice three C’s in our lives- Communicate, Connect and Care. Recent suicide by a famous Bollywood personality has made us to believe firmly that the word ‘Alone’ is fine but the word ‘Lonely’ is definitely a villain. We must not flow with our emotions but must rise above them. I called my friend again and I told life is not a box and spoke famous dialogue of Katrina Kaif from the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara “Insaan Ko Dibbe Mein Sirf Tab Hona Chahiye … Jab Woh Mar Chuka Ho…” And both of us laughed and promised never to feel lonely howsoever alone we may be and from that day we pledged to be in touch every day.
The incident reminds me of the beautiful stanza penned by the great poet William Wordsworth which goes as
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
*Views expressed are personal of the writer.