Writing has slowed down now. The day now ends with hasty bullet points typed against the date and that is it. I return to the points next morning to piece them together in paragraphs. Five hundred words everyday were not a problem as long as life was confined indoors. The day we began the ‘unlock’ process the hours began to get divided again. It was no longer pure immersion, within the four walls. One could get out and take a walk or sit in a park. The constant, unchanging nature of lockdown days have been instructive.
Maybe this lockdown diary will have to be stopped soon. The entries were meant to record the experience of an unusual, life threatening event that froze the world in its place. After nearly seven weeks of lockdown, several cities and states of India began to unlock and resume normal lives. Even as the number of infections and deaths continue to rise. restrictions on people’s movement and activities were easened.
There is not much to write about the events unfolding around us. I have been interested in examining how these events and processes affect aspects of my work and personal life. And on occasions, I tend to look outside the well on occasions.
I read Nirmal Verma, who as a jury member of the Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage said –
A good reportage must not necessarily be linked with topical or political events which are taking place around us. I think the miracle of things lies not in showing the extraordinary but in showing ordinary things in which the extraordinary is hidden.
For now our collective situation has turned commonplace for a while. While the exploration of extraordinary changes in our times will continue, I also believe that it will take time to reveal itself and for us to identify. In a way, the lockdown diary was a personal reportage. It linked to much of global, national and personal politics that were happening around in those days. They were easy to observe and have an opinion about. However, the unraveling of the pandemic in and through personal lives is yet to be known conclusively or even to a minimum understandable extent. What we know are the immediate costs that many of us have paid. In the long run how will these days matter? That is to be seen ahead.
Elsewhere, I hear Philip Roth say, Don’t judge it. Just write it. Don’t judge it. It’s not for you to judge it. There’s merit in his thought. Judging is to take a position in a way. A lockdown diary relays thoughts. So, I continue to write.