Rulee Phukan

Lockdown 2020 – Ground Notes

The masks were yellow in colour, kept in a transparent plastic bag. As we prepared for our Sandakphu trek, we combed for it in our rented apartment in Jatia. Six months ago, I moved into this apartment (after my marriage), not more than 500 metres from the home I grew up and lived for 30 years. For many days in the beginning, I would often locate my home from the terrace and bedroom balcony of our apartment. Each time I went to the terrace, I would spot the whitewashed walls in the hill towards the north, and a figure – usually moving, who I had often thought to be my father as he would mostly keep busy in cleaning the house and its premises. It wasn’t a surprise, when I was told by my mother that she too had located our building from the kitchen door and by standing under the mango tree near our rain water harvesting tank. It was a neighborhood of poor and lower middle class families. Not only did we share pithas, homegrown vegetables, and fruits like mangoes, bananas, jujube, coconut, and jackfruit, we also shared food that we had brought from our village homes and from our travels, from different events at a relative’s place like birthdays, funerals, ethnic events and rituals. On some days, we did not have to cook at all. Picking flowers like roses and gardenias; stems, leaves or roots of medicinal plants; cutting banana leaves and trees from were done in the neighborhood without the need to ask for permissions from the owner.

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