Lock down, And A Flashback!!
Warning: Lengthy post
I have not posted anything very personal in this blog, except for sharing snippets of my creative journey. But the times are absolutely against the norm, so a post like this seems to suit the overall vibe right now.
It is day 17 of the mandated nationwide lock down in India, to combat the spread of the Corona virus, and the mood on social media is decidedly not upbeat. Though there are some spectacular creations being shared by the artist community worldwide, be it dance, music, sculpting, painting, pottery and others. Hard to feel positive when there are so many losing livelihoods, lives and loved ones all over.
For me personally, with a few art projects to complete, a 6 month old adorable niece to cuddle, and time enough to bond with my sister,parents and daughter, an e-reader with access to any number of books, and in contact with all friends and family, it is tough to complain, except for the fact that my husband got stuck in Chennai, though he too is home.
The biggest reason why the lock down now feels easier is that I am in a healthier condition than I was all those years ago. True, I was a decade younger, but physically, I was a wreck. And while I have told a handful of people what I went through, there has not been a total disclosure about it.
I had a very active toddler, who took only catnaps that barely lasted a half hour. The silver lining was that she was a very happy child who barely cried or made a fuss. We were in Gurgaon, and I was not used to the cold weather. Having been misdiagnosed as having PCOS, the medicines that I had taken were causing many a side effect. Substantial weight gain and painful periods were just the beginning.
The winter months were excruciating, with water retention causing all my joints to swell. Some mornings, it took a while to get out of bed, because my knees would not bend. So I had to roll to the edge, lower a leg, then lift up holding on to the headboard. The fact that even the soles of my feet would be puffed up, did not make that exercise very enjoyable!
With a busy baby, just prone to mischief, we opted to spend the majority of the time on weekdays confined to a single room with the TV, a laptop, a shelf full of books and her toys. We spent our time watching cartoons, playing memory games, singing rhymes, introducing her to alphabets, numbers, vegetables, colours, and animals. It was a proud moment for me when she recognized 'brinjal' from her book at the vegetable shop.!
The relatively sunnier days, we took a walk to the park, where she could expend her energy. A couple of instances which started my grey hairs too - where she spotted dog poop and a big ant hole on separate occasions, split seconds before I could warn her, she would be squatting down with her nose an inch from it. Extracting her from her precarious position with knees that wouldn't bend well, and slow reflexes were the start of a few of my nightmares.
I started blogging at this time, putting up recipes and exploring my love for art anew. It was fun letting my baby mess with her own crayons, but she preferred to use the wall instead of the paper to get creative.
Her naughty smile! Mischief at all times!!
Once she started playschool, the questions about my going back to work started up from all quarters. But with no other caregivers available, I was not too keen to entrust my child to hired help. And surprisingly, a part time job that I could do from home opened up. I was all set to sign on, when I had a near breakdown for almost no reason.
After some intense soul-searching, I let my husband know that I wanted to be creatively engaged and not go back into a field that I really did not care for. Though being someone who is about numbers and being practical, he had my back and supported my dreams from day 1!
I joined a few workshops for mixed media art and followed the blogs of people who were earning their livelihoods with art. I practiced techniques, styles and explored various mediums.
We shifted to Delhi, and then a few months later to Chennai. The warm weather was better for my mobility, and I joined a course in jewelry making and simultaneously, discovered Cold Porcelain!
A few months later, I started a page named 'Swardaa' in 2011. I started selling both handmade jewelry and Cold porcelain miniatures. Also started this website 'Swardaa'
Since then, I have been on a learning curve, teaching art to children, sharing all that I knew, seeing creativity through the freshest and boldest perspectives! (children are fearless!!) I have had a few articles published in online magazines about my inspirations and artistic process. Had the great chance to take part in a an art collaboration with 300 mixed media artists worldwide, named 'Into the Forest'.
Right now into a second lockdown, this time not due to personal limitations, but for fighting to slow down a pandemic, I feel calm. Last time with severe limitations and at an unsettled stage, I did find the best way forward for me, took care of my child without mishaps, and founded a business.
Now, more than a decade older, and have lost about 1/3rd of my earlier size. Healthier than I have been in ages, business albeit down but not out, surrounded by family, doing our part of staying at home, is personally, not a huge deal. The past years have instilled a sense of tolerance to biding time while things out of our control sort itself. And an intolerance for people who never even lend a helping hand, but are ready with judgements and criticisms - like body shaming, making fun of my little hobby, etc.
Staying home means staying safer and in turn, keeping others safe as well. There can be freedom even in confinement, if it is spent well and results in personal betterment and sorting out life on our terms. It was great that my husband gave his wholehearted support, but it took me realising that I wanted to do what I loved, and not live for others, that got the ball rolling. And that came while living through a challenging phase.
Prayers and thanks to the support personnel all over the world, who have the toughest jobs in these trying times. Hoping for a safer and better tomorrow.