Book Promotion | Sample Chapter | Once Upon a Mentor | Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – Battling the Pandemic

4th May 2020, 01:33 HOURS

Another day of grocery, which means two weeks of anxiety.

When the first lockdown was announced, I had no ration, except for two square meals. As I live alone, it was around 6:30 that I learned about the announcement. The shutdown time was 7 PM. Long story short, I had to beg the shop owner to buy some rice. Horrible days, but I was not as anxious as I am now. The situation is becoming worse as I battle the pandemic alone.

Things have gotten better now. I stock stuff for two weeks. It helps that I live alone and eat little. And yet, every time I step out, I cover myself from head to toe, gloves, face mask and a scarf to cover that. I take a hot shower after I return, keep the groceries in containers and throw the plastic bags out. Heck, I even wash my clothes with Dettol these days.

I am still paranoid. Until I clean vegetables and shower again, I would not be able to go to bed. Grocery day means staying in the kitchen till 2 AM.

So be it. It is not that I sleep early. At least I am doing something meaningful with my time.




8th May 2020, 21:41 HOURS

Friday night, I will wait till tomorrow to call mom. It is kind of a routine. Do not ask the reason. I am not comfortable talking about it.

Not feeling like reading any new book, I plan to watch a movie, anything silly that distracts my mind. Any Ranbir Deepika movie will do.

I have a bad print of “Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani” on my laptop. That would do, just the right amount of drama and romance and fun.

I am laughing at the grocery shopping scene, but Deepika’s mother…

There is nothing wrong with her mother. She is a hyperexcited overprotective mother. I just…

I miss my mom, my family.

As if on cue, the movie pauses due to an incoming call. Mom is calling. Karma at play?

Not a good time to talk when I am already emotional. I clear my throat, remind myself of everything that makes me angry, hoping anger would curb my need to cry.

“Hi, mom!” I clear my throat and say.

“How are you, beta?” she asks.

This is the thing with the term “beta”. Our parents always use it to address us but when you are on the verge of crying, you realize the true meaning and the sentiments hidden behind that word. The sentiments transfer to you making you an emotional fool.

She could have just asked – how are you, no?

“I am okay, mom,” I sniff and reply. “How is everything back home?”

Home, a place I could not go to, no thanks to this pandemic and the lockdowns and restrictions it imposed.

“We are okay. Some people have come from Pune by road. Inter-district travel is allowed, it seems.”.

“Ya, some people are travelling.”

I wait for her words – you should also come home.

“That is stupid. In such circumstances, you should stay home,” she says.

While I agree to her logic, my irrational self it irks. She could have asked me to come, no?

“Why did you call? Anything particular?” I ask.

“No, you always call on Saturday. I thought I will change that routine.”

Oh, she just wanted a change in routine. It is not like she misses me or is worried about me. Nah!

“What are you doing?” she asks.

“Nothing, just watching a movie.”

“Oh, okay!”

“I can talk, mom. How is dad? Do not let him step out.”

“He stays home.”

“Who brings groceries?”

“Tanay or Tamannah…”

Tamannah, and her husband… my sister and my brother-in-law… Last years incident refreshes in my mind. I do not know how to continue talking…


The word ‘hmmm’ is a conversation ender, do you know? It indicates that no other topics are coming to mind. Mom gets the drift.

“Watch your movie,” she says.

“I will call you tomorrow,” I say.

“Take care, beta!” she says and hangs up.

Why would she do that? End the conversation on ‘beta’? Does she not know how much more I miss her now?

I do what any sentimental fool does. I bawl.




9th May 2020, 07:39 HOURS

I have not slept through the night and I am sure I am not the only person whose routine has gone for a toss.

Pandemic is not just affecting those who have contracted the virus, or those labours who are out of a job, or those families who are struggling to get home, or those kids who have no food or water.

Within the confines of my safe and sound home, with enough grocery to last for two months, I also feel I am battling the pandemic just as hard as everybody else.

I know. I am ungrateful!

But depression is a disease for the rich folks, they say. Have you not read how they mock Deepika Padukone for her battle with depression?

I think I am succumbing to the depression as well. But one of my superpowers is to sense things before they happen. Now that I have learned about my tendency to feel depressed, I vow to stay focused, stay positive and beat everything.

All I need is ambition, something to drive me.


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