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When my college gave us a precautionary week off, I thought of it as a vacation. When India went into a lockdown I thought of it as an early end semester break. But when the lockdown extended I believed it to be the new normal. The lockdown has tilted my world on its axis. I had a lot of plans for the summer. But as the saying goes, the best-made plans of men and mice always go awry. I believe mine did too. The lockdown has affected my life in many ways. It has trapped me in my house. I cannot leave. Ironically it is like a long train journey; sit on your seat with your family around you with your gadgets in your hands. Go to the washroom whenever necessary then come back sit in your seat, rinse and repeat. I am a specimen in the zoo. I have every form of entertainment at my disposal, every luxury at my feet. I have everything I want, I just don’t have the only thing need - freedom. I am just another human trapped in a gilded cage, temporarily as it may well be, staring wistfully at the free birds. As the mightiest species on this planet, I have, perhaps, never felt this helpless. The primary change this lockdown brought into life was that it took away my excuse of not having time. I realize we are the only species who created and follow the concept of time and how meaningless our existence becomes without it. The lockdown has given me the time to develop my soft skills. I have been reading, writing, learning by myself. I am researching and binge-watching. I am catching up on all the things my peers do for entertainment and I didn’t because I was busy running behind studies. I am spending time with my family. It has given me time to appreciate the littlest of things around me like the lazy summer afternoons, the chirping of birds that lull you sleep, and the simple silence of stillness. It has given me time to count all my blessings. It has given me time to retrospect on my past, present, and future. The lockdown has led me to study from home. It has increased my screen time to an alarming rate. It has made me appreciate the smallest things I took for granted. It has made me realize the large number of freedoms I had and, hopefully, will still have soon. Life has come to a standstill. For the first time, no one is rushing. It's surreal. It's strange. The silence is as terrifying and terrific. The lockdown has changed my perception of many things. My family knows me more than I thought they did. I missed my friends more than I thought I would. I had believed that if I had food and phone, I wouldn’t need anything else to live. But my epiphany states no matter how amazing and all-consuming technology gets, It cannot replace a human touch. My feed doesn’t calm me. My screen is not warm. My machine is not alive. Another strange epiphany of mine is embarrassingly apt - stupidity is a disease far too strong to be cured by the likes of education. Once the lockdown or even the pandemic is over, the world-my world-will never be the same again. While the lockdown has given me a lot of time to do the things I love. It has put pressure on my future. To make for the stillness, the rush needs to be doubled. I would need to pick more internships before starting college. I would need to leave home to live in the hostel. I would meet all my friends. I would hug them a little tighter, a little longer. I would sit more under the shade of a tree a little longer. I would eat everything I restrained myself from eating. I wouldn’t postpone things. I would expect the unexpected. However, paranoia supersedes pandemics. While, like the rest of the world, I will slowly crawl back to movement, I will be wary of travel. I will be scared of the simplest symptoms of sickness. I will be more cautious, more distrustful. Like the rest of humankind I, too, will move into a sadder yet wiser world.
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