By: Yunika Bajracharya

“Oh God! How has this teeny-tiny invisible thing managed to confine humans, the mightiest of all creatures, inside their homes?” says my grandma in her high-pitched voice while staggeringly listening to the news broadcast on her fizzing radio.

It is almost like a nightmare, where the evil corona-virus has frightened us to stay stuck at our homes and left all of us vulnerable. There is no doubt that our days have turned upside down, the whole world has come to a standstill and we are now living the new normal but when I look at my grandma, I realize this has been her normal for so long.

Snowy white hair with some grey strands remaining, tied neatly in a low bun, my grandmother is healthy-looking and has a soft wrinkled face with thin pink lips and watery black eyes that belies her eighty-five years. You will find my grandma in a clean white sari sitting quietly in her favorite spot in the corner of the bed with her legs propped up. It has been long since she got out of the house due to her years-long leg ache. Since my grandfather passed away last Dashain, in spite of all of us trying our best to stay beside her and keep her engaged, she still has to spend most of her time alone. Watching TV or movies isn’t an option either, as her eyes get fatigued fairly quickly. Nevertheless, the relatives, who come to visit us, the radio FM 97.2 MHz, and our stories about what happened today at school and college, would keep her occupied. And yet, since the pandemic, things have changed for her as well.

During this shutdown, her leg pain has gotten the better of her, making it painful even to go up to the bathroom. The doctor, who had been treating her, is abroad and not able to return due to the airports being closed and the medicines prescribed earlier aren’t working well. This has caused her to stay just in her room all day and night. Apart from that, she is also disheartened because we haven’t been able to perform the monthly saradha of my late grandfather. This year, inevitable hardships have taxed my grandma’s strength and yet, what is heartening to see is that she still keeps her faith, compares herself with those less fortunate, and manages to remain buoyant. Her subtle smile at all times shows me the deep equanimity that she has within herself.

One good thing that this remoteness has given me is more time to spend with my grandma and I’ve learned many things just by observing her. Staying inside our homes has never been easier — we can learn and work from home, chill with Netflix, communicate through social media, and talk with our friends and family afar in real-time through video calls. My grandma, however, is beautifully oblivious to what has been our source of entertainment lately. Rather she says she has been born during a simpler time; time of relative peace and prosperity. Earlier, I was worried about my grandma being lonely most of the time but now I am comforted to find that she knows how to entertain herself to combat boredom and loneliness. I suppose she must have faced enough adversities in her life that she is now able to adapt herself so well in resisting grief and fear. Waking up early with the chirping birds, smelling the fresh dewy morning air, my grandma cares for her health and even though she can't move around, she does some stretching and pranayamas on the bed itself. I see her delicate laughter lines and bright hopeful eyes even in these grim days. Albeit the prescribed medications aren’t curing my grandma, her optimism has become an effective commodity and I believe this is an essential weapon for all of us in battling with the current global turmoil.

Recently as the director-general of WHO has stated - along with the epidemic, we are also fighting an infodemic. There is a flood of information and breaking news readily available at our fingertips, making us susceptible to being drowned in them. With all this, whenever I feel overwhelmed, the memory of my grandma reminds me that staying positive or negative is a matter of our attitude and that there is an end to every nightmare. Thus, along with not spreading the germs, I am also trying not to spread dread to myself as well as others. Amid these dark days, I am somehow learning to see the glimmers of light.

Like my grandma, I, too am learning to handle the current status quo without complain.

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