CHENNAI: Hello dear reader. How are you dealing with this strange, new world we find ourselves in? I will be honest, I am not dealing with it very well at all. While one voice in my head tells me that I should count my blessings, that I must know how lucky I am, that things could be so much worse, there is another voice in my head that is shrill, petulant and unreasonable. That voice is whining ‘This sucks! I want everything to go back to the way they were, right now!’. This shrill voice would stomp its feet were it attached to a body.
Our children soldier on, writing online exams and turning in assignments. The husband and I continue to work from home, taking calls and hopping around, trying to find a decent signal. We barter help: ‘You make the bed and I will make some coffee.’ Yesterday, I arranged our towels chronologically and by colour and brand. I told myself it was satisfying. It was not. But perhaps the family member most affected by this strange new world we are living in is the family dog.
Suddenly, the weekend is running on a loop for him. The humans are all at home. All day. We don’t disappear and reappear anymore. His daily routine of saying goodbye to people in the morning and greeting them in the late afternoon with tail wags and licks has been disrupted. Sometimes I find him sitting in the middle of the living room, head cocked to one side as though asking ‘Why are you still here? Also, are you going to comb your hair?’ Add to this the fact that we all now want his attention and time. We are desperate for it. We want to play fetch with him. Give him treats. Rub his belly. Take him for walks. Whether he wants to walk or not. As I type this, my husband is combing the knots out of his fur. For the third time this morning.
Woody may have basked in this attention at first, but two weeks into this new routine, I sense that he has had enough. He has taken to the dark, shadowy corners of the house in the hope that if we can’t see him then we will not ask him ‘Who’s a gooboi?’ for the millionth time. Add to this, the ignominy of being forced to participate in Instagram challenges long after the hashtag has stopped trending. We have tried the #snootchallenge, the #whatthefluffchallenge and are trying to entice him into starring in the #kikichallenge with moist dog treats. He has a resigned look on his face. He knows there is no escaping it.
I feel bad for Woody and have decided that one less family member pestering him with love and affection would be a load off of his fuzzy shoulders. But who would I show my love to now? Who would I take care of? My kids? No! My husband? Please. My plants. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that before? They’ve been thriving under my benign neglect all this while. Just think how well they’d do if I actually looked after them! I think that we all agree that my next column is going to be called Plant Cemetery.
Menaka Raman @menakaraman