Covid 19 has entered our lives
by Sudha Chandrasekaran
(Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India)
Covid -19 has entered all walks of our lives, mainly our friends’ circle!
Busily watching a movie on YouTube on my Laptop, I heard my cell ring…..” Your Covid friend,” said my Mom. Possibly many of us have at least one new Covid Friend! A new group of friendship has blossomed during the pandemic last year: There may be a Covid friend for you, someone with whom you got tied up with during last year and who is no longer an acquaintance. Well, I also do have a cluster of Covid friends – some ladies whom I met at an online book club during a virtual meeting; a man I met during the Toastmaster’s Zoom meeting; and a bunch of home cooks who had joined a Chennai’s foodies’ Whatsapp group during the lockdown last year.
Not only is our ongoing pandemic known as Covid-19, but it has come to be a prefix for the constantly altering conditions of our lives today. Yes, we have Covid anniversaries, Covid birthdays for all of us who have been confined within the four walls of home for the past one year, unable to socialise with our friends and relatives. Then again, we have lockdown babies for people who have found themselves stuck up with partners. There are the lockdown hobbies that have taught us to bake pineapple cake; lockdown workouts that involve YouTube videos; fitting 1500-piece jigsaw puzzles; and playing Ping-Pong tournament against the walls in the living room!
Several weeks of separation, loneliness, uneasiness, and apprehension, lead us to seek some sort of normal human interaction wherever it could be found. Umpteen number of downloads of dating apps soared as we tried to fraternize and “meet” up with new persons. All along social networking platforms also saw leaps in their usage. Very soon we were all mentally tuned to Zoom meetings, Amazon prime viewing parties, and various other virtual clubs….. If you are, by any chance one among the numerous people who joined some Whatsapp groups or online classes or dating apps, you are most likely to add a new lockdown term: ‘Covid friend.’
May be it is only a matter of time before the Covid relationship would be recognised as something usual that has been forced on us to approach in an extremely novel way.
Several are the forms of Covid romance and these are often based on our behaviour to the existential crisis, that of the pandemic. In this insane world, it is love that keeps us going. But then, there are the moments of connection we have earned over our cell phones, computers and laptops; the memes from a friend that have provided laughter moments on a dull quarantine day; the excitement and novelty of an interesting conversation with a total stranger on Flip; the reminisces of renewing our old acquaintances with whom we are in regular touch today......How do we manage the platonic relationships that we have developed during the pandemic, once we are out of lock down? Which are the ones that were products of situations and necessities; which of those were real, and at what is the point at which it matters no more?
It is difficult to find answers for some these questions until we are totally out of the Pandemic woods! It is like some random seventh-grade school mate who was there when you attained puberty. Yes there are some people who are there with you when you pass through crucial moments in your life without becoming important people in your journey of life. We are all facing Covid and as of now survival is sufficient. As for the repercussions,, be it the sweep in disposable plastics or the Covid friends we made along the way, a year or two on, they may all become acquaintances of past.
How do we go further with the platonic relationships we have formed during the pandemic, after we are out of lockdown? Well, the future interaction with our Covid friends has to be dealt with on individual basis. One acquaintance whom I met via Bumble, a dating app for women who want to be empowered, during the beginning of the lockdown period, led me on to a stint in psychological counselling for students that attenuated a few hours of dullness and boredom; while there is yet another who has become more than an acquaintance and frequently catches updates with me. On joining a WhatsApp group of Chennai foodies, it still pays off, 12 months later, as I continue to join up with a bunch of home cooks who have formed a circle of their own during the lockdown. It is all about taste-testing one another’s recipes, exchanging hacks for the mouth-watering dishes; and hallucinating about the parties we will be having during the Post –Covid times!!
Then again there is the book club of which I became a member 8 months ago, formed by a handful of young women who wanted to have animated discussions about the books they read. After getting together virtually through zoom meetings, video chats and text messages, we finally had our very first in-person meeting a few days ago at an open-air restaurant. It was rather strange to meet this unique group of Covid friends in person. We all felt a sense of togetherness and camaraderie that was never there during our granular Zoom calls. Weeks later we got to know one another and I found myself absorbing these ladies completely in full colour and volume – their favourite foods, the way they cracked jokes……, and spent hours not in discussions about characters, plots and subplots but just enjoying the camaraderie!
Before my physical meeting with my book club friends, I was aware that we shared similar interests and diverse points of views, and that our conversations were animated, witty and stimulating. But it was only when I saw the ladies in person, that I understood that all this was the pale and limited version of the rich and full-fat experience. Whether Covid friends stay or turn into memories of a crucial time in our lives, this is definitely true: We only partly know the people with whom we connected virtually, hoping for a speck of human bond. Now we have come to know that some such version does exist at a distance, as we live through confusion and unpredictability. And this might probably be the one and only version of ourselves that we have today- finding normality and rationality by being together with our Covid pals!