“The Lockdown”

It was my brother’s idea to get together at the vacation house for the lock-down. It had been a while since we had met. Also, he wanted me and dad under the same roof for the next fight about my very intelligent life choices. My sister was the first one to reach the vacation house as she had announced on the group chat that she was cooking dinner. She even got the place cleaned and ready for all of us. Something that was expected of me, being the eldest one without a proper job. My brother reached 2 days after just like Ma and Dad who drove with a car full of groceries. I was clearly running late. And so I decided to enjoy the drive, reminiscing about the many times when we had driven together in one car to our vacation home. The early evening sky showing off its evening dress among the crowd of grey clouds. I guess I was always had the weird imagination. Anyway, today’s outfit had more defined lines and darker hues. The soft breeze and the smell of fresh air just added to the beautiful view. It was going to be a much-needed vacation for all of us.

Earlier that week, the news reports had started to show that the country might be on a lock-down soon. All three of us were scattered in different cities for our jobs. I had never imagined that it would be months before I would get meet all of them. We always were a bunch of hard workers, only my younger sister was different. Her work was tough because she traveled a lot. Even though we lived together, we hardly were together. I think that is why we had survived each other all these years because one of us was always traveling. She had earned a lot of respect in her field of work. She was a travel photographer. And my brother was now a big shot copywriter. Only I had changed my profession a couple of times now. And obviously Dad was not very happy about it. I had given up a very high paying job at a big firm after almost 12 years to become a full-time writer. And my Dad’s reaction to this move was, “Why don’t you just get married if you are so tired of working”? Frankly, this was the only time my Dad had acted like a man from the 1950s. We had our worse fight that day, and not even in person. We spent 4 hours on a speakerphone fighting through dinner, after dinner kitchen cleaning, late-night walk and finally gave up when we both were tired and had to brush our teeth. I guess we ran out of insults for each other by then as well. I gave up the job the following week and started writing for a small online magazine. It was kind of tough to adjust to the new lifestyle, as I was not making enough money in my new role as a writer. But everything fell apart completely when Dad had a heart attack.

For a long time, I had blamed myself for his illness. Watching him stuck to those machines and the endless poking for just one more blood test. He had been through a lot. And here I was adding to his ordeal. The eldest daughter, unmarried, and now jobless (well, for him I almost was). It was only Dev who could calm me down. We had been together since we were kids. We were so comfortable in love with each other that marriage was the obvious next step, but we were in no hurry. Though I did contemplate the idea when Dad was in the hospital. But ‘marriage’ checked out of my head as Dad got discharged from the hospital. Marriage never interested me.

Honestly, I did not want to go back home. I had no intention of having another worthless screaming match with our Dad who clearly had a weak heart. Mind you, it was a heart of GOLD,  but now was getting weaker with age. For years we had watched dad pay little to no attention to his health and now when he fell sick, he had suddenly become too much of a health fanatic. And of all of us, I was the only one having issues with his new lifestyle. I was angry at him for not doing this earlier in life. I was pissed at him for making us all go through the sickest of the times, watching him, laying on a hospital bed like a broken colorless flower. I had been the most annoying kid to Ma and Dad while he was in the hospital. My brother had aged 10 years overnight and my sister’s largely laid-back attitude had become positive and prudent. She had contacted the nearest doctors to our hometown with Dad’s reports and got him references for the regular check-ups. On the other hand, I had only visited him in the evenings at the hospital for a few minutes all through his stay of 2 weeks.

I have no understanding of my behavior. But now after almost 6 months of Dad being healthy and me finally giving up on the tiring job, I had had time to recollect my thoughts and work on myself. My brother had been very helpful patiently listening to my childish rants and talking only when he was sure I was ready to hear. At times it felt like, he was picking tricks from Dev. On the other hand, my sister had decided to give me more space by traveling even more than usual, therefore leaving me alone with my thoughts. On one of the conference call when I confronted her for being absent from my life, she had simply explained that I needed to figure it out for myself, on my own. There was nothing she could say or do to change my mind and I had to accept myself for the current life-changing decision I was making. She made so much sense that I felt like the youngest among these two. Afterward, I had drowned myself into writing, even more, staying home and enjoying the evening walks by myself. And it worked like therapy.

I was still in my thoughts from the past occasionally admiring the mountain-side, when I heard him growl in the back seat. Badal was not so happy sitting in the comfortable back seat all by himself on my super expensive bed sheets and blanket. He needed a walk after the long drive. So, I stopped at the next rest stop and took him out in my arms. He was still a tiny pup. It had only been a week since I had got him. The big surprise for everyone. The home was not too far now. Just another 6 hours drive.

It was dinner time when I reached home. I was so tired of driving making sure I don’t fall asleep killing my precious little Badal. And then, he opened my car door. Dad smiled looking at me. His smile became even bigger when Badal sneaked his head out of the very soft cuddly blanket, yawning. It was dad who took him in his arms talking to him in a baby voice, cuddling and kissing the little Boxer. I just stood there smiling at him. Followed by a big scream, “Excuse me no hugs or kisses for me, huh!” This quarantine was going to go down in history. You know the history of our family book that I was now writing.  

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