The forecast was for heavy snow. By breakfast the first flurries start. The children marvel at the white droplets falling from the skies. “When can we go out and play,” they query. The smattering of snow dust is not enough for even a snow fight. “Let’s wait a little bit longer”, I delay them. The snow slowly starts to settle, the light dusting turning into a frosty iced look. The kids’ parents ring. They want to pick them up before the snow settles. We have to be quick if we want to make our snowman. Kavitha used to make her own snowmen. I would stay indoors and watch her progress from the warmth of the house. I don’t think the children will let me do the same. I kit them up in their warm clothes and do the same for myself. Lakshmi helps me as I scrape up the ice from the driveway. We have just enough for a small snowman. Lavinia walks around looking helpful. She slips and falls, not once but twice. “My bum hurts”, she cries out. “That’s the beauty of the snow, the slipperiness, if we had enough snow, we could have sledged down the driveway”, I stop short. Probably not a good idea. The gate at the end of the slope may not be strong enough to withstand the onslaught. “Find me some twigs for the arms”, I try to distract her. I can hear the doorbell ringing. Their parents are here. In my haste I use a whole carrot for the nose. It looks too big on his small face. Lavinia runs away to greet her parents. She is not interested in the photo shoot with the new kid on the block. Lakshmi poses by his side. “Look after the snowman”, Lakshmi reminds me as she leaves with her parents. There is no hope for that. The promised snow fizzles out. The rain washes away any remaining evidence. Just the carrot and the twigs remain. The children could have stayed till the evening.
Bad news sells. That’s what the Trump administration did. Newspaper sales reached record proportions during his term. The drama it provided kept the country enthralled. Now the US media is worried about their fate as normality returns to the shores. Still the impeachment trial might provide some entertainment, they hope. Bad news certainly does sell. The BBC coverage from the ‘Royal London Hospital’ is going viral. I see the clip pasted on my classroom WA site from India. It is grim viewing. I have just read the account in the papers. The nightmare that is engulfing us. While the rest of the country shield in their houses, the nation’s intensive care units and hospital beds are fighting a war behind the scenes. This time everyone is suffering. The resentment, the resigned feeling, the feelings of hopelessness, is there an end? A sentence I read in the papers summed it up ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it is a very long tunnel’.
Lakshmi and Lavinia are lucky, being children of key workers they can still attend school. Although Lakshmi is missing her friends and laments the fact that she has to attend meeting after meeting all day, she still has a classroom to attend to with an element of normality. For the other children and their parents home schooling is turning into a necessary evil. I hear grim stories from my worksite. Parents of young children being admitted to hospital with no immediate family to take care of the children. These kids are then taken into foster care. The parents now battling their own situations with their children in the hands of strangers. Scenes reminiscent of the world war, instead of soldiers, the healthcare workers are in the frontline, instead of aircrafts dropping bombs, it is aerosols discharging warfare, instead of artillery, breathing equipments line the wards and the comparisons line up.
In the midst of this, the snow flurries provide a short lived entertainment. For those whose lives have stalled as a result of the lockdown, ways of staving off the boredom is plentiful if we are interested. We continue to bake bread, test our culinary skills and revive long forgotten hobbies. I try my hand at brewing toddy from coconut water. Was there a faint smell of toddy in it, I try to dive into my memory box. It was a disappointment to say the least. I read about South Africans brewing pineapple beer and hope they had better luck than me. A friend tells me that for them 2020 was a wasted year, a lost year, a year when life stood still, a year they will erase from their memories. For us we hope that 2021 will not elapse in the same manner. ‘Hope’ I think is not a bad word after all but something to look forward to even when control is slipping away.