The delight (and dread) of deconfinement

How will unpausing play out? Will we be kinder to others, or treat them like culpable carriers of contagion and cross the road?

 |  PARIS DIARY  |  5-minute read |   11-05-2020
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This addresses those of us who have been safely locked up at home (with at least one sunny window to look out of) alongside loved ones (remember, it’s what you called them before being cooped up 24/7 for 50 odd days), or alone (you lucky devils, you have no idea how good you’ve had it). This speaks to those of us with the hope of a job and financial security on the other side (for I am at a loss at what one could possibly say to those who will have to pick up the pieces yet again and figure out how they will feed their families, or pay rent in a world that will be too scared and insular to be kind and accommodating). To the advantaged addressees — have you, like me, fallen into a lullaby rhythm and secretly started to dread deconfinement? It is Day One of deconfinement in France and there’s no roadmap, or precedence on how you come out into the newly unconfined world, a world that will be completely changed, or worse utterly unchanged. What speed do you stride out at?

Of course, I want to come out of confinement (I don’t have a death wish for my partner), it’s just that I want a minute, or two, more. We were forced into lockdown at a moment’s notice and it took a while to find my groove. First, there was the — is this really happening? Are we putting the whole world on pause mode? How is it even possible? When the world’s largest democracy pulled it off, we knew we were living through a global war, like none we could have imagined. Not even the eeriest sci-fi films prepared us for what has come to pass.   

After we shut shop and postponed our lives at lightning speed, came sorrow and disbelief. Here, where I am — the body bags kept piling; there, where you are — thousands went hungry. The gaps in the supply chain became openly glaring and the mask wounds on the faces of the first responders told their own horror story. The all-powerful western world didn’t have it all and didn’t even come close to knowing it all.

main_koel_051120095437.jpgOf course, I want to come out of confinement, it’s just that I want a minute, or two, more.

Once the sadness subsided, panic arrived, because everyone knew someone who had it, (or knew someone who knew someone) and having it was no ordinary flu. It was on our clothes, in our packets, in the air, in our hair... An itchy throat had me calling all my medical friends and Googling the symptoms, till I had legitimately made myself sick.

Fear finally gave away to forbearance, and our whole world entered our four walls. We learnt to organise ourselves better in order to work more productively from home, thankful for being the lucky ones. We became so physically and emotionally self-sufficient that we surprised ourselves into feeling something resembling gratification. And this is where I am at, so forgive me if I’m, selfishly, not ready to let go of it yet.

Give me a few more days, weeks, or months (time has lost significance). I’m on the precipice of conquering procrastination (the trick is to lock your phone in a drawer, eat up the key and hypnotise yourself into forgetting the incident). I’m on the brink of broaching my personality disorders and on the verge of beginning that long journey of fixing my relationships. The tiny voice of reason inside my head (that I have tried my darnedest to kill) says — if in all this time I haven’t had the discipline to do any of the above then, either it’s not a priority, or I am doomed, and no amount of staying in will make the difference. Thus, deconfinement must be embraced, just like a lifetime ago confinement was (although what on earth does deconfinement without school and offices opening actually mean?).

How will unpausing play out? Will we be kinder to others, or treat them like culpable carriers of contagion and cross the road? Will we, freely and mindlessly, try on clothes in a mall, or will we rethink how unnecessarily we consume, having gone happily without so much for this long? Will we go a step further and perhaps stop eating meat (knowing it’s industrially farmed regardless of the organic tags), not drive when we can walk, put our phones away and play board games to reconnect? Will we stop jetting around the globe, not just for its carbon footprint but also for a simpler life, where we rediscover the wonders of our own region, our own country and therefore learn to respect it and have a vested interest in its development? Will ‘grow local, go local’ finally take on a meaning that’s actually meaningful?

As the world slowly reopens, we are newcomers to it and tread with trepidation. Given that restaurants, hotels and air travel will be restricted, where is the first place you will go? The hairdresser? Somehow the strays and greys may seem less urgent than the open sky and fresh air. Whether you are an optimist or a denier, you know that the clock will tick fast when we rush out to reclaim all that nature has gained, in our absence, to give to us. The first thing I intend to do is grab a patch of green and have a wonderful all-day picnic with friends, but of course, with each nuclear family, or individual sitting two-metres apart on their own carefully demarcated patch of grass (wondering how you eat a sandwich wearing a mask). You’ll smile in tacit agreement, if you weren’t confined together, you don’t breathe together, not easily. Not on Day One at least. 

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Winning the war against coronavirus... from home


Koel Purie Rinchet Koel Purie Rinchet @koelscouch

Professional Attention Seeker. Currently loves and writes in Paris.

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