Leki, is a writer and a Ph.D. scholar trained in Sociology and Social Anthropology. She has been based in Delhi for over a decade and is currently "stuck" in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. Her work is underpinned with questions around gender, identity, violence and justice.
Anxiety in the time of Social Distancing
I have the luxury of socially isolating myself with my partner in the hills of Rishikesh. Long-standing social and economic forces married with a bit of chance allowed me to reflect in the time of COVID- 19. My habits have learnt to bear the lack of a fixed home be it in Delhi, Assam or Arunachal Pradesh, so I have no complaints.
I found myself surrounded by strangers with different interests and dispositions and for the first time, I experienced the inexhaustible burden of small talk. This pandemic has proven that everything is small talk. In these times of crises, I prefer the indifference of bees, birds and plants over the futile attempts of humanity to save face.
In 2010, on a trip to Dharamshala, I discovered that lungta (prayer flags) can be
decorations. Back home, lungtas are a sign of surrendering to both subtle forces and established duties. They are not markers of a proud individuality and/or an openness to a universally acceptable religious philosophy of compassion and non-violence. The community is the universe “back home”. In 2020, the flags carry strips of home in them.
During this pandemic, I met doubt, anxiety and self-deprecation. Additionally, Adam Phillips made me realize that our super-ego is also our internal and eternal bully. I am trying to tackle it with different techniques, like reading, writing, moving, meditating. This period of equivocal time has violently erased the unstable line between social order and inner disorder.