Living History – Sristi Ray, Sector 24, Gurgaon
Life during Corona.
[By Mayank Austen Soofi]
Coronavirus will become yesterday’s news sooner or later. That doesn’t change the fact that we are living through a crisis the like of which hasn’t been seen in generations. One day, a century later maybe, when the longest-living among us too would begin to die, newspapers would commemorate the event as the passing away of the last of the people who lived through the world-altering Covid-19 pandemic. In brief, big-time history is happening now. And The Delhi Walla is trying to prepare a part of its first draft by putting a set of questions about ‘daily life these times’ to people from diverse backgrounds.
Today, it’s Sristi Ray, a Master’s student in English literature. In her early 20s, she is spending the lockdown holed up in an apartment in Gurgaon’s Sector 24 in the Greater Delhi Region, and is consuming her long hours in writing, reading and sketching. Like most book lovers, Ms Ray is fond of many writers but is currently focused on André Aciman: her dissserstation is on his two collections of essays. That Mr Ray is deeply connected to the world of words is also ascertained from the fact that her left arm is tattooed with the image of a tree inspired from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.
The photos were taken through the phone screen that connected her to me.
5 outdoorsy things you’ll do after the pandemic is over.
1. Walk on the foot-over bridge that connects the DLF Phase 3 metro station and CyberHub, and watch the traffic on NH 8 (which I found has been re-numbered as NH 48, but interestingly neither the people nor even the NHAI seems to want to adapt. Habit? Rigidity? Nostalgia??)
2. Visit a crowded café alone, find a corner, order an iced tea, reassure myself of summer, and write.
3. Shop for art supplies.
4. Visit a bookstore, exchange a single smile with a stranger checking out a book I know will make them happy. I do not tell them.
5. Visit my grandmother in Puri; experience this year’s monsoons by the sea.
The view outside your window at the moment.
From the balcony – an empty by-lane. Occasionally a human being passes by quietly on foot. Dogs who look lonely and slightly paranoid amble around dustbins. A single black crow sits on the branch of a tree filled with new leaves the colour of spring green. There is no sound in the air. Further away on the other side two DLF buildings loom large against the western sky.
What’s going on in your mind right now?
Ideas for a PHD proposal. How the Scandinavians manage to live happily and top the UN happiness index charts every time. Discomfort with the uncertainty in 2020. Ideas for a book I want to write, which always only feature in my thoughts in hesitant, aloof, slightly scared brackets. Words like fortitude, hope, time, and also drive, dissent and death.
Objects in your house that give you solace in self-isolation.
My 3 notebooks. Among others, a book with Proust’s letters to Mme Marie Williams, his neighbour in a Paris building – which I do not finish reading because I do not want to admit that it is a book with finite pages. Solace lies in a closed drawer.