People everywhere now are seen with masks, of different color, different style and different designs. They are running with masks, sitting in restaurant, and waiting for food in masks, attending church in masks, performing puja in masks. Masks and masks. Plenty of masks everywhere. What seemed unreal a few months back is accepted as real now. Events are happening. People started driving to places. People started to discover new ways of organizing parties, meeting friends, and having fun.
Religious facilities have opened their doors limiting the attendees. A few restaurants opened adapting to outdoor sitting. Some of the side streets in Washington DC and Virginia were converted to restaurant sitting areas and closed to driving. People everywhere became busy as usual with activities in masks, virtual events, zoom parties and online learning.
The number of lotus flower in our pond started decreasing day by day. I was still counting them every morning. There was a day one month back when the pond had a burst with 170 flowers. Today there are only 7. My husband had found a way to make a dish out of lotus seeds. He searched YouTube and found a way to make lotus seed chutney. Then he experimented to make lotus seed bada.
The “Hopi Crape Myrtle” trees in our front yard had a bloom. Beautiful pink flowers were so attractive that one would feel like just flying to the top of the tree and mingle with the pinkness.
We also had a strange marigold flower in our garden, two children flowers coming out of one mother flower. Not sure how the stems came out of the flower. My husband became so exited that he put a picture in Facebook.
A few mushrooms came out of my neighbor’s front yard that was in the side of the road. I noticed it when walking with my husband.
My dance school had recital on Friday, August 29th evening through zoom. The organizers had invented ways to use dazzling backgrounds and amazing light and sound effects all through zoom. In some children programs, the children that danced from home sometimes had encounters of their pet dogs or cats or some siblings appearing as intruders. After 2 hours of program, one of the parents had a burst of anger. “What type of arrangement is this? You people do not want to distribute the program flow because you want every participant to be present all the time to see all the shows.
However, do not you think it is so hard for children to be dressed up and wait in the computer for hours to know when their turn will be?’’ Even some in my team were also frustrated. How much time could one wait in the computer? After two hours of waiting, a fellow dancer from Tennessee sent us message that she had invited guests and would not be able to perform if our performance did not happen within half an hour. Luckily, our performance happened after 25 minutes. I was thinking, “What? Invitation during COVID-19?’’
Many are becoming impatient. How many days can we live in such a state of not visiting anybody, not going to the theater, not eating in a restaurant, not having a party? And people started going out, getting out, experimenting pleasure. However, there were strict guidelines for everybody to wear masks and maintain safe distance. Still, the number of new coronavirus infections was not decreasing. In my state of Maryland, daily new cases are fluctuating between 400 and 800. Today, on August 29, 2020, the number was about 108,000.
Our new Jagannath temple was operating with a few dedicated devotees. The devotees were feeling joy by decorating the deities for different occasions with new clothes, ornaments, lotus flower and other seasonal flowers.
The month of August had several auspicious days, Raksha Bandhan and Jhulana Purnima, Krishna Janmastami, Ganesh Puja and Radhastami.
The monthly bhajan program was continuing through zoom. Weekly Sunday events were also continuing through zoom.
Life was going on in the middle of the real and unreal world. The news of new vaccines was sometimes providing hope that sometimes soon we will reenter our normal life. We will get up early in the morning during the weekdays to go to work. There will be morning rush time when we will become frustrated on the road. We will have our active working routine with meetings, collaboration, lunches with colleagues and discussions. In the evening, the parents will have to leave early to pick up the children from the school or childcare center. Sometimes hurricane and tornado will make traffic a mess and increase the frustration of drivers in the road. And in the weekends, there would be rush for everything, extra-curricular activities, sports, movies, parties, and every other thing.
One of my friends said, “You know what? I am enjoying this type of working from home. I do not have to be worried about getting up early, facing the traffic, worried of being late to pick up my son from the childcare center in the afternoon. Although I do not want coronavirus to continue as I am feeling isolated sometimes for not being able to attend my church events and family, however, I am kind of happy.’’ She also mentioned that she adopted a new cat to her family to give them company.
Some of us feel that even if the vaccine is discovered, still it will take six months or more to completely reintegrate to normal life. As per now, life goes on amidst the pandemic, and the real and virtual world. It is the faith and hope that keep us looking forward with dreams and aspirations.
(Dr. Bigyani Das lives in Dayton, Maryland, USA. Views are personal)