Living with my family through the lockdown was an experience of being encapsulated within a singular image of being a ‘son’. This image was a continuous disciplinary power that gazed me from a distance, while I slowly negotiated with it, and are settling over time. This settling is a slow changing of the everyday like a spiral, building associations, solidarities through memories, changing through understanding one-another in their nuances.
I usually wasn’t with them for a few years you know; living and working in my college; living through the book reading and discovering music in the train; phone calls in the corridors, and shouts, screams and dances in the studio; talk to a rickshawala, starting mostly with “Kaha se ho?… Are hum bhi UP se hai!”; smoke at the tapri; drink at a friends place; and kiss, wherever they happen,”
But during the lock, while the mind wanders within a virtual medium, its inability to engross us into an escape, given the oculocentric nature of our devices, frustrates us. The disciplinary image of being, or the identity if a ‘son’ is what produces the experience of power, and hence disallows being a ‘student’, a ‘lover’ or a ‘smoker’. While the apartment does not afford these darknesses, it does not afford an excuse to escape as well; since it is isolates one from its neighbourhood, and the long distance engagements are now online. On the other hand the city of Mumbai does not afford these darknesses, and its inability is much more apparent during these times.
Since the local trains are not functioning throughout the lockdown, the physical distance to escape the house and neighbourhood became expensive. Hence I have been wandering on the streets with Old Monk ‘Quarter’ bottles, or cigarettes in my pocket, desperately looking for a place to enjoy solitude.
A friend and I started meeting on her building’s terrace to smoke; but soon the watchman got suspicious, and started taking rounds. So we met less often and were paranoid whenever we did meet. Once that was unreliable, we asked around looking for other terraces, but most buildings including mine have their terraces locked, opened only when permission is granted from a ‘Committee member’.We wandered around Juhu and Powai, in search of spots, and found a corner beside a pan shop on a residential street; a raised garden adjoining the Juhu beach with a bush backdrop; the rocks on the beach right behind a the newly installed, but massive boat-shaped LED street-light; inside a car parked in BKC, where I even got questioned by a passerby police constable, who we ended up paying 12,000 rupees since we were scared and did not want to be reported to the police station and face our families; at the edge of relief road; in the interior streets in the old village of Vile Parle’; behind the parked buses and trucks below the metro; on the skywalk at night; on a silent street beside a garden landlocked by apartments; a friends place with a time limit of an hour; or the toilet with an ear to the door; and many more which I would not want to bring forth.
No excuse to leave the house creates the requirement of a ‘reason’ to do so. If transgressing, the expenses of travelling need to be justified, but the restriction to eat outside and do something else has made its justification difficult. On the other hand, the lack of ‘safer spots’ have made the enjoyment of transgressions fearful and hasty. Time is ‘wasted’ if the time to transgress is used to to anything else. “Jaldi kar koi aa jaayega”
What is the place that affords the process of making home?