Janice Pariat Talks About Necessary Uncertainties With Her Notes on A Quarantine

Janice Pariat Talks About Necessary Uncertainties With Her Notes on A Quarantine

Janice Pariat, a Delhi-based writer and teacher had suddenly found herself trapped in Rome, Italy earlier last month amidst the raging Coronavirus panic. Italy went on to become the second-worst affected country after China and it was only after much difficulty that Pariat was able to come back home. Upon landing, she went into self-isolation in order to keep her family safe. “I stepped in and he took his bags and left. We only saw each other at the door,” remembers Pariat about seeing her partner only briefly right before he left the house the day she landed. Now that things have started to look comparatively better, earlier last week, she decided to bare her soul for Homegrown and tell us what her quarantine was like and how it has been coming along. As we all find ourselves caught up in a much-extended and perhaps not-soon-to-be-over quarantine, these words might give us something to think about and perhaps even feel a tad bit hopeful.

Notes on a Quarantine

Today, it’s been forty-four days since I landed in India from Italy, headed to our home in South Delhi and self-quarantined. Well over a month of not stepping out beyond the confines of our small garden, of my small neighbourhood.
What have I learned? Cliched as this may sound, I’ve realised that I can actually manage with very little. That I purchased pointlessly–too many clothes, too much “stuff”. The cycle of consumption, for me, has broken–it’s back to essentials, to only what I really need, and while I have no name for this yet–I hope it’s a way of being that will help me live less acquisitively even after this is over.
I’ve learned that it’s important, especially at these times, if you’re away from your parents, to call them every day. Mine are elderly, at home alone, and I know they look forward to hearing my voice, getting a small update even if it’s just what I’ve cooked and eaten for lunch.
That there is never enough alcohol.
Or chocolate.
Or poetry.
That in dark times, we turn to books, to music, to movies, to art. And we are lucky for such solace.
That the “health of our planet” now isn’t a vague, distant eco-warrior concern. It’s of screaming importance for us all with the privileges that mandate greater responsibility towards it. Else, ever more ecological disasters await, and we’ll be playing a starring role in our own undoing.
That we are fragile.
And rendered even more so by our vast carelessness towards this complex interconnectedness of life.
That capitalism, in all its extractive glory, must begin to see its end days.
That a pet cat helps ground you by being unmoved by, well, everything.
And a partner who makes music is nicest to have around. Because free live concerts.
I’ve learned that there are many things one can do with cauliflower. But not that many.
When in doubt, add cheese.
I miss my friends but I’m glad they’re home and safe.
We are so incredibly privileged to be home and safe.
Our certainties, I realise, are small and human.
And our uncertainties fearful yet oftentimes necessary. To help us see anew.
Honestly, what will get us through this–through anything–is kindness.

Weeks into this and life feels stripped down, essentialised, pruned. What now, I wonder, will bloom?

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