A Lockdown Story
Here is a lockdown story. In July 2020, when the lockdown was slowly being lifted until 8:00 p.m. the husband and I ventured out in the car to shop around for a new bicycle for the son. It was an uneasy feeling. There was police force all around and people were roaming without masks in the suffocating summer sizzle, congregating around juice counters, and paan shops.
It was already 7:45 p.m. and the fear in the air was comingling with the viral threat. Police personnel on motor bikes were ordering roadside hawkers to shut shop before the 8:00 p.m. curfew. There was this tired looking man carrying some plants on a rickety bike. I could hardly see what plants he had. I noticed a curry leaves plant that I wanted, even though I had already ordered one from NurseryLive.com.
I hadn’t got out of the car until then, considering that I fall in the comorbidity category but something clicked and I went and bought this plant from that person. I asked him to keep it in the car trunk. He handed me some change and I was so afraid. While I fumbled for my sanitizer bottle, a policeman was hitting his lathi on the poor man’s bicycle. He quickly scuttled away.
It was dark. I hadn’t checked the plant quality. I wasn’t bothered. I just wondered how these daily wagers and people without regular income were making ends meet. For around 10 days, I watched the curry leaves plant settle in it’s new home, while I also kept a watch for Covid symptoms.
In September 2020, our State opened on weekends; until then we had weekend lockdowns starting Friday, 9:00 p.m. When the lockdown was finally lifted, there were no feelings – what to do with the opening up, where to go? But if we don’t go out, poor people like that plant seller, for whom hunger was a bigger fear than the police, than Corona, will continue to suffer.
We are a developing country. Though we also have some of the richest businesses in the world, a majority of our population struggles to make ends meet. These poor people are the ones with the biggest hearts. That evening, that plant seller on a bicycle gave me a healthy curry leaves plant for just Rs 60/-. Today, it flourishes and provides, and may it do so for a long time.
The 13th Wedding Anniversary
Today, my husband and I completed 13 years of wedded life. The world changed drastically within a quarter of our last anniversary. We didn’t know it would. That is how sneaky change can be and this one had the power to remold lives, to test relationships, and to create upheavals in all households. It was a true test for a lot of things – how workable your family relationships are, how supportive your workplace is, how good your immunity is, how patient and perseverant you are, and how your children can behave in the face of adversaries.
I am proud to share that our relationship has emerged stronger and better in the past 8 months of a global pandemic as we navigated the uncertainties, until we realized this was the new normal. From developing a brand new routine and sharing the housework, to marking our own little work nooks while figuring out online education novelty for our 10 year old, to refraining from snapping and hollering at each other and giving space even when our world was confined, to sharing the common goal of keeping the spirits flying high, our weld-lock is the cliched Fevical ka mazboot jorh.
To 13 years and more, and to the year of the pandemic that we will reminisce when we are gray and old and be glad that we didn’t get to each other’s throat in 2020. We passed the unique test of the year.
How did we celebrate? This anniversary was on a weekend and in any other year we would be celebrating by eating out, may be travelling, or meeting friends but we had to keep it low not only because of the pandemic but also because I have an allergic cold, courtesy the smog and the sudden dip in temperature.
The morning started the way it usually does in our household with me concocting a breakfast, literally, magically out of nowhere. So, here is what my foggy mind laid out as an impromptu breakfast – My signature orange chutney (sweet), cooked tomato chutney (my own recipe), kala channa-aloo gravy, and bedmi puri.
Lunch, we supported a local restautarant by ordering a Buffet in a Box – the entire vegetarian buffet and non-vegetarian starters from Barbeque Nation. We spread it out and called it fit for a king and queen.
The husband says this is the anni-virus-ary that we will remember for years to come!
The Story of a Spadix
Got a surprise this morning to see a spadix on my lemon grass. I posted the photograph on a Facebook gardening group. When somebody asked me on the group how did this happen, I realized something was amiss. I did a Google Lens search and learnt that this compound flower is characteristic of the Sweet Flag plant. Fascinated, I immediately resorted to Google Search and dived into the world of Wikipedia. Lots of information later – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acorus_calamus – and curiosity piqued, I roamed around the Internet a bit and found more engrossing stuff, straight from the ancient times. Almost like a time capsule, the emergence of a spadix on a beautiful North Indian winter morning, transported me to Biblical times.
According to the https://christiananswers.net/dictionary/calamus.html, calmus is mentioned in the Holy Bible and is one of the ingredients of the Holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30:23), one of the sweet scents (Song of Songs 4:14), and among the articles sold in the markets of Tyre (Ezek. 27:19)
The word designates an Oriental plant called the “sweet flag” and called “sweet cane” (Isaiah 43:24; Jeremiah 6:20). It’s used to make perfume.
It was not a native of Israel, but was imported from Arabia Felix or from India. It was probably what is now known in India by the name of “lemon grass” or “ginger grass,” the Andropogon schoenanthus.
The wonderful things we learn every day. Container gardening is so rewarding. But, now, I worry whether this to be consumed like lemon grass, brewed into tea, the way I do. A question that demands an extensive Google research and maybe some experts to respond on the gardening group, where I posted this photo that led to an amazing discovery.