The year of our lord 2020 has so far, to put it mildly, been a colossal disaster. It has been seven months of a tiny virus ravaging a large number of countries, and what it has left behind, governments and forest fires have endeavored to ruin. The last three months are generally when the year makes its final bow, with frosty winds heralding the next. In Mumbai, we do not believe in such unnecessary things as jackets, unless it is to battle the terrible central air conditioning (too much or too little), but I’ve heard that these are the months when people get out their winter wear.
This year has given me much to be happy, and while I know that I am part of a fortunate few who do not have to worry much about sickness or their family’s livelihood sliding away, I want to acknowledge the things that have brought me joy in this quarantine. I want to tell you of a little red boy in a curly jacket, pretending to be a wolf as he howls at the sky. I want to talk about the momos and the biryani and the impromptu little meals that my mother and my aunt surprise us with. I want to write about the late horror movies that I peek at through my fingers with friends, and the songs by Queen and Elton John and David Bowie that I fell in love with.
I will tell you of the watercolours I painted, and those that I helped paint; the terrible banana monster that nearly ate us all, before a little knight in Spiderman pyjamas ate it up in three bites and saved our lives. There have been birthdays and balloons and Fridays this quarantine, and we have taken all opportunities for junk food and parties and cakes (five cakes for a scrawny boy of sixteen). Keep your hair on, my beleaguered readers: by parties, I mean the seven of us; my parents, my brother, and my three neighbours.
The next three months though, who knows what will happen? There will be some football (inshallah) and hopefully a decent exercise regime: I’m terrible at routines, they breathe down my neck so. There will be a virtual Durga Pujo, with a bunch of people, myself included, with saree pallus wrapped over pyjamas, singing heartily under red lipstick and large bindis. There will almost certainly be the return of the banana monster, with maybe a cereal dinosaur or two added in for good measure. There will be large parties once a fortnight (again, dear reader, of seven people), and smaller ones in between (six). I see myself in particular, becoming fast friends with a large dog who is the proud owner of pink shoes.
I foresee interminable online lectures that I will inevitably sleep through, causing my mother to loudly worry about my education, with myself sneaking out to my auntie’s house to play with babies and dogs. I think I shall learn sewing, (with the trusty sewing machine), and wildly miss basketball hoops as my brother and my friend fall over themselves laughing.
I shall have time, and I shall have fun, and I shall get angry at governments and the state of the world. I will feed the parrots and the sparrows and the crows that join us at mealtimes, and I will take pictures of the sun falling through dusty glass on a dusty wooden door (my brother and I aren’t big fans of housework). I will water the plants (or, watch my mother water them), and talk on the phone with my friends, and ponder over materials and equations to send a small satellite on a rocket up a trajectory. I think, terrible as the year has been, I will be happy.