At times like this, one is bound to be grateful just to be alive. The Covid had stopped being just news when you see otherwise healthy persons working beside you are suddenly ditched by life. Almost all known people have bereavements in the close or larger family; they too are trying to get over personal losses. Not to talk of how many kids have suddenly been orphaned and how many families have lost their bread winners. While a country will claim to recover and bounce back, nobody will realise the permanent scars of unfortunate survivors.
The continuing lock down since last 6 months, or rather 1.5 year, if a small breather window is discounted, is not much different for me except that I ve more time to resolve the difference between ‘aloneness’ and ‘loneliness’. The pseudo escapes through official travel opportunities having betrayed, I am happier closely knowing such a lovely house with a circular balcony retaining the memories of dozens of families who might have lived here in the past as they served. Built, rather rebuilt, possibly in 1950s, the balcony is 36 long steps by me. I specially mention of that as I spend most of my woken and home time there. If you sit on there, you don’t see the concrete world just yonder as there are about 2/3 lines of large trees giving the full cover to all nearby structures. That always gives the feeling one is sitting in a wooded hill cum sea resort. Small birds or squirrels on the tree never make you feel alone when crows or kites don’t chase them away. The soft sea breezes are a million dollar rivilege. The champak tree renders me the sight of its divine flowers and scent. Actually, I had not identified the tree and for long kept wondering what kind of incense sticks my neighbors must be using, till i caught sight of a golden flower in its foliage. After a while, the full tree was decked with flowers and fruits that the birds peck. By now, I know almost all bird couples of the hood and those who are still single and being chased away by happy societies.
Coming to work, I have moved from my earlier building overlooking a sleepy back bay with a longish wave breaker for a handful of fishing boats anchored. Now I sit on a higher floor of a building overlooking the sea, from a distance though. Had it been a hotel, they would have classified the rooms as city side and port side, though sea view is available from both the sides through large glass windows. First few months I sat in a cabin on the city side overlooking all the colonial old city architecture and monuments. Impressive, but watching large ships waddle by was always fleeting delights. The campus of navy adjoining the building housed a lot of officers and cadets in uniform all the time.
Last week, I shifted to a cabin on the port side . I am happier to see large ships anchored on outer piers and small ships coming closer to some kind of dock area. There is a container cargo dock in between. The crane and other vessels with support systems are permanent views. The number of large ships visiting has dwindled since old time when I used to peep through the windows during visits to my then boss’ cabin. Though I know they have built a more modern port some distance away, this century old port is in folk lores. Due to the positioning of my work table, I cant see the sea all the time. I often come to the visitor side of the table to sit and work so that I can see the sea whenever I turn my head. I ve also placed a wooden lectern near the windows to stand and read sometimes. During the lockdown periods often I am the only officer in the entire 25 floors. Not missed a single day. No personal staff except a pantry boy or a girl who leaves after serving me lunch. Not a small blessing. The food served is ordered from some restaurant as the office kitchen is closed. Restaurant foods can not match simple cooking at a home or office kitchen. I ve seen cooking can be such a stress- buster and meditative, there is nobody between you and your food. On the flip side, when you cook for yourself only, you don’t think its worth so much trouble. When I cook and imagine that my mother or wife is cooking that meal for me, it tastes best.