A pandemic may not be the best time to salvage a broken marriage, but life works in strange ways. When Covid-19 made social distancing the only antidote to ensure humans don’t infect humans, my estranged husband and I, who were maintaining social distancing for the last 10 years, started to bond.
As the pandemic arrived in India, so did my fear of getting infected from my husband who returned from the United Kingdom in mid-March. My daughter met him a day before Chandigarh got its first positive case from the UK. What if they were on the same flight?
The next day, my daughter came home and my sister-in-law and two nieces were visiting. We had already created a chain.
Soon, I began to develop every symptom listed by WHO. I tried herbal concoctions that my mother suggested. I called the government helpline numbers in the last week of March to get myself tested.
All this while, my niece kept enquiring about my well-being and I about the well-being (read symptoms) of my husband. He was now back in the “we are a family” list.
I spent two long, agonising weeks taking steam, doing gargles, and devouring every bit of news on Covid.
On Day 14, I declared myself a Covid-19 survivor. Wouldn’t it be life’s greatest irony had I died of Covid despite 10 years of social distancing from my husband!
Once out of danger, I was back to fretting over the fallout of the pandemic on my children. To my horror, the International Baccalaureate cancelled the Class 12 board exams, plunging us into deeper uncertainty. My daughter, who was preparing to leave for boarding school near Bengaluru, was now stuck with no homework, no sports and perpetual hunger pangs. Being home- quarantined with two teens hooked to their phones is beyond what even nightmares are made of.
My gated community in Mohali offered some much-needed distraction. After a meeting of residents to discuss social distancing took an angry turn, an RWA executive was replaced. No one was spared by the warriors of social distancing and the police were called to chase those on a leisurely stroll at the park.
As Unlock-1 was set into motion, the un-lockdown of my marriage began too. With no one to socialise with and no business to attend to, my husband became a master chef in the kitchen. He took walks with the children, danced with them in the rain, and monitored their screen time.
My son, 18, was unpleasantly surprised by his dad’s undivided attention while my daughter, 14, realised it’s easier to live with her mother than her father.
My husband and I started sharing notes on handling idle teens, the joys and sorrows of parenting in quaran-times. I spoke to him about my insecurities and fears of being a single parent and living in a society that still judges women like me.
While we may still not get back as a couple, we are friends now, leaving our past baggage behind us. The pandemic may change the world for the better or worse, but, as we go through these times, we must all find our own silver lining.
Sukhdeep Kaur is a freelance journalist and writer National Editor Shalini Langer curates the fortnightly ‘She Said’ column.
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