On departures and social constructs

Waking up at a different hour than your usual can sometimes be cathartic.

Since the Covid situation started, I have been working out of my home. I no longer have a job which requires me to wake up at 7 AM in the morning to take calls with the onsite. No longer do I even need to wake up at 8 AM, so I can finish breakfast and leave for office on time.

My morning routine these days consists of waking up at an hour which the young me would have been shocked at and wouldn’t have been allowed anyways in my parents’ house. Yet, the whole world is reeling under a pandemic and wake-up hours may be the least of concern to anyone involved.

However, this morning, couple of my flatmates left the flat as they are going back home. To see them off, I woke up at 6.30 AM. They left about 7 AM. Just having woken up at an hour which you probably have not seen for the better part of a year, you have no idea what to do.

I spoke to my mother for an hour, grateful that some people still wake up at decent human hours and are available for a chat. We talked about people leaving and the emptiness left behind – the suitcases that no longer crowd the hall. The utensils which have magically disappeared, the shoe racks which just hold some blank shoe boxes and dirt from the shoes that no longer belong.

Having spent five years in this city, I would say I have grown to not being affected by departure. I have learnt to shut the lid on memories and reopen them when they are convenient or simply gushing into the mind-screen. The weekends past spent on pizza parties are just that – past. I know now that these weekends are not to come back, but what will indeed come by are new people and new memories which come with them.

This pandemic has taught me the importance of being around people in life. In some ways, I am saint-like in my life. I could go hours without talking to anyone, thinking to myself, reading something or just generally doing things which do not matter in the grand scheme of life. Yet, in the handful of parties that have been held in the house in the last month or so and a game of monopoly which I have gotten great at over the period, I realize the importance of the social construct.

I did not grow up learning to respect friendship. It worked back in the day, because we lived in houses filled with nosy relatives or pesky neighbors, people who made your business their business. But here, in the high-rises of Bangalore, no one really cares. If you ever exchange any words, that’s perhaps because you haven’t been responsible with your trash or you cost your neighbors their sweet sleep with your loud music. We are generally good tenants, which means, we don’t often get called out for the two behaviors mentioned above. Which means, we live in a three-bedroom flat, my flatmates and I, and we are pretty much on our own, on our own routine.

And within that, when people come and just fill up your lives, in the form of a maid or a random co-worker of a flatmate who you’ll never see again, somehow it feels good. The world is a beautiful place, but it is made all the more beautiful by the sheer variety of people living in it. In some ways, even the pesky neighbors feel like a fixture of the past era now. There is an odd pain in everything being perfect, without a bother. I do love my solitude, but we will continue to be social creatures until perhaps the end of this civilization, in spite of our machines ripping us off our human interactions. In between, perhaps these pandemics will serve us with a reminder of who we ought to be and what we really need to thrive in the world that we have made up to be so complex.

2 thoughts on “On departures and social constructs

  1. ajit kumar

    >Is the ‘physicality’ of departure connected to the ‘physicality’ of solitude and loneliness? Meeting a person in flesh and blood is nice but the strength this relationship gains is when there is a meeting of hearts and minds.
    >In India, speaking in a general sense, most of us have grown up in a community of public relationships centered around the oral culture of chatting and talking. Now that this community is vanishing many of us are caught in a limbo. We were at one time a part of this ‘old’ community. But today many of us live in a ‘brave, new world’ [An expression from Aldous Huxley]. We are a part of both, but yet not a part. How do we resolve this dilemma?

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    1. Arpita Post author

      Yes, absolutely. I guess, to some extent, it begins with us seeking out new circles of friends, consciously. In the past, these circles came naturally, because your neighbors always initiated conversations.

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