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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

‘One more glorious day without fear… Breathe girl’

Can I do this forever? Is it possible to never have to step out of house yet be a contributing professional? What a relief!

April 26, 2020 4:31:32 am
(Illustration by Suvajit Dey)

Written by Amrita Madan

At midnight, when the little one finally falls asleep… Breathe girl!

At 6 o’clock the next morning, when you wake up with aches and pains in your body, and a bit (read a lot) of house work waiting… Breathe girl!

At 8 o’clock, when you wake up the little one for her online classes while preparing for your own… Breathe girl!

At 8:30 am, when you are grateful that you don’t have to travel for two-and-a-half hours to get to work — you wake up, make yourself look presentable, log in and you are ready to go — breathe girl. Can I do this forever? Is it possible to never have to step out of house yet be a contributing professional? What a relief!

At 9 o’clock, when your child’s class starts with a session of mindful breathing and the wonderful concept of ‘circle time,’ that you get to be a part of remotely… Breathe girl!

At 9 o’clock, when your office starts simultaneously with the introductory ‘let’s begin the day well’ online ‘meeting’… Breathe girl!

At 10 o’clock, when the classes (your child’s and yours) are in full swing and you realise you forgot to make breakfast… Breathe girl!

At 10.30 am, when you finally chance upon an interesting method for teaching on an online forum — for a haptic millennial (your student) learning the tactile subject of architecture — wow! Breathe girl!

At 11 o’clock, while still riding high on your new-found knowledge, when you realise that your child is half asleep in ‘class’, and on your screen your students look drowsy too, take a moment, take a break, breathe girl! You wonder how the ‘wait for your turn’ in class has turned to ‘guys, please talk’.

At 11 o’clock, during your coveted break, when you realise that the pet needs your attention — clean, feed, repeat — breathe girl!

At noon, when you remember it’s time for your daughter’s next class — thank god we are not late — breathe girl!

At 2 o’clock, when you all sit together (finally) to have lunch as a family, for a moment of camaraderie and happiness, for a moment to catch up, an opportunity that you didn’t even know you were missing, really, breathe girl!

At 3 o’clock, when it’s finally a moment for you to sit quietly and catch up with work, though your mind is scrambling, putting together ideas, a grocery list, a

to-do list, you register that even while navigating a system that’s ridden with issues, you have the cooperation of a few — some colleagues, some friends, family, some networks. A few that you can rely on and who can rely on you in return to do the jobs that you do well.

At 4 o’clock, it’s time for another jump — Dear God, I need to get my child to finish her school assignments. Did I miss anything? How do I support my child? Finally, you accept that it’s okay to do it when you can… Breathe girl.

At 4.30 pm, when you discover a new superpower — you seem to have developed a capacity for mental gymnastics, an ability to look at the reality differently in the online world, you are able to be simultaneously here and there, inside your mind and inside the minds of your students. You can conquer! Breathe girl…

At 5 o’clock, you wonder where the time went. You clamour to fit in as much as you can into your class, but your students have already mentally logged off. Then, you realise again that it’s okay. As a teacher who thrives on reading body language to augment, revisit and repurpose her delivery, you realise you are now delivering to a blank screen. You want to reach out and pull at their hands and minds… Guys, listen! But it’s OKAY. There will be another chance… Breathe girl!

At 6 o’clock, when your daughter comes running up to you and asks, “Mamma, is your class over? Can we play, can we walk, can we dance, can we jump?” And then, you breathe girl! This is what it is all about. This is why it all makes sense. Yes, come on, let’s breathe together!

At 7 o’clock, when your sick pet makes a desperate call for help, you are grateful that you are not far away — in the car in traffic, on your way back from work. You are there to soothe and alleviate their pain. Exhale and help. Breathe…

At 8 pm, when you call a friend to just vent, you walk (to complete the 10,000 steps), you rant, you rave… The only thing missing is a glass of wine, but then you get to breathe girl….

At 9 o’clock, when it’s time for dinner and you realise that you haven’t cooked what everyone wanted, and then you are stumped to see your family members walk in with salad, sweet lime juice, pasta, you know we are in this together, and you breathe girl!

At 10 o’clock at night, when a student messages asking for help, you realise that in this uniquely inter-connected world, people are now more approachable, more accessible, the boundaries between work and life are blurred, and that while your child is your biggest supporter, the students with whom you have a telephonic discussion about ethics in a changing world are your lifeline and the reason to go on. Breathe girl…

At 11 o’clock, when you look up and the sky is bright with stars and the crickets are chirping, you realise that you just led one more glorious day without fear. You go to bed with a prayer. Somewhere inside you is a feeling of solidarity with the world, with the Earth, and you. Breathe girl…..

Professor Madan is an architect, designer, and landscape planner. She teaches at the Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Ansal University, Gurgaon

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