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Lockdown Diary |

Health And Family

Lockdown Diary

HEART AND MIND - Paulynn Sicam - The Philippine Star
Lockdown Diary
At night, before I go to bed, I look out my rear window at the condo lights glimmering in the distance and wonder how my invisible neighbors have managed on the umpteenth day of lockdown.
Illustration by IGAN D’ BAYA





I used to sleep with my room totally dark, with curtains shutting out the neighbors’ night lights, the city’s street lights, the moonlight and the sunrise. This way, I could get the seven hours of sleep I set as my goal on my Fitbit. Since the lockdown, however, I have been keeping my blinds partly open so from my rear window, I can see in the distance, the lights in the condo buildings on Katipunan Avenue, where other people who are similarly situated, live.

It upset me greatly when high rises were allowed to be built on what used to be a pastoral Katipunan Road (now an Avenue) that blocked the view of the night sky in Loyola Heights. But these days, it gives me comfort to see the lights in units occupied by families locked in by the enhanced quarantine, knowing there is life out there.

In their shuttered condo units, there are people like us reading books, playing or listening to music, doing jigsaw puzzles and playing board games, baking, cooking, or living vicariously watching Korean dramas on their laptops and cellphones. There are also those who are working from home, writing their thesis, meeting deadlines, and holding meetings on Zoom.

From my window, I can look into my neighbor’s driveway where I see the kasambahay playing cards in the evening, beside a car that has stood immobile for over 50 days. Across the street, a young man exercises on the balcony of a two-story house every afternoon, lifting weights and going nowhere on a stationary bike.

I’ve been cooped up for over 60 days and it has not been fun. So I am happy to know that under the recent new rules, I can now take a leisurely walk in our neighborhood, with mask on, keeping proper distance from other walkers.

We get no visitors at home — not even from Lalamove, Grab, Shoppee or Lazada. They deliver our orders at the village gate where a qualified household member (not under 20 and not over 59 years old) picks them up. But there are regular callers that come right to our homes. The garbage collectors come three times a week in big trucks to pick up our trash. They are our most anticipated visitors and our most valuable service providers. In fact, under lockdown, without a work schedule to anchor my week, the coming of the garbage truck is my reminder of what day it is.

The garbage collectors faithfully service gated communities and condominiums and they see what we throw away. They have a good idea of how we live, what we consume, how wasteful we can be. I can’t help but wonder what they are thinking as they rummage through our trash.

Under lockdown, I find that having a routine is a good way to survive the day. I decided that I would not live in my night clothes all day, as I usually did under normal times when I had to work at home. I wake up early, to the first rays of sunlight streaming through my half-opened blinds. I fix my bed, and change into a house dress or shorts, before facing my laptop to hear the Jesuit mass at 8 a.m.

For the rest of the day, there is a lot one can do when there’s nothing to do. I’ve taken my sewing machine out of storage and finally figured out how to use it. I’ve succeeded in sewing an oversized pillowcase, which is a no-brainer, but failed in fashioning a face mask big enough and loose enough so there’s space to breathe under it. I have done some baking. I have a pile of “to read” books on my bedside that had gathered dust until the lockdown. I have this weekly column that I have been remiss in writing. And my closet is waiting to be rid of clothes I haven’t worn in years. And now, I have the leisure to chat with my friends and family on Viber, Messenger and Zoom.

For leisure, the world has come together to make this lockdown easier on us. We have free access to concerts, movies, musicals, international film festivals, even operas we could never afford if we had to pay our way. Restaurants are sharing recipes of their most popular fare. Top universities have opened courses we can avail of, for free. Museums and libraries are open for exploration without ever having to leave our homes. And for those of us who need it, there are masses online at any time of the day or night from all over the world. This is the life, right?

Not really. While such treats give me momentary pleasure, nothing beats the physical company of other humans at work and actually sharing a meal and stories with friends and family. And while I get some comfort hearing online Masses daily, I miss the community in a physical church and receiving the Eucharist in person.

I am pleased with the significant changes at home, where there are six adults and two dogs living in a small space. Everyone is present at meals and each one does his and her chores. Cooking, food shopping, washing dishes, setting the table, walking the dog, vacuuming, etc., have all been assigned and are done with little resistance. We are actually talking to one another more than ever; I am catching up with the millennials whose conversations can go to places I have never been.

I have also loosened up on my hard and fast rules. My bedroom, which was always sacrosanct, is now open to the dogs. I put a small quilt to protect my bedcover so the dogs can romp and cuddle on my bed without spreading their hair all over. This gives me such pleasure, I wonder why I resisted it for so long.

At night, before I go to bed, I look out my rear window at the condo lights glimmering in the distance and wonder how my invisible neighbors have managed on the umpteenth day of lockdown.

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