Life had been a good teacher to me. It gave me more chances to learn via experience and is still giving. I just have to keep my senses open and not be drowning in emotions, to have a better view. Having no expectations of others is really a tough job to handle. But life has taught me well in this area too.

It was the time when I was courting my husband and our parents were still not aware of our relationship. We were work colleagues. It was Diwali time and everyone was traveling back to their homes to celebrate with their families and the same goes for my housemate who had already left. My home was far, which couldn’t be covered in a day or two days of holidays and so I didn’t plan any travel. My husband also had travel plans and it so happens I started running a high fever. He had to choose between staying back to take care of me or going ahead with his travel as planned. His family was continuously calling to find out if he had started. This is the only festival when his whole family can afford to spend time together since all his family members were into different retail businesses. Although I wanted him to stay back, I couldn’t say so because I knew he wanted to go and so he did. It was a difficult time for me since there was no food home delivery system then and we (my roommate and I) had not set up our kitchen, as she had her own food arrangements outside and I had free dining at my workplace and weekends we (my husband and I) ate out. I managed somehow thanks to the small in-house mom-and-pop shop (paan shop) which stood just beside our building. They used to sell cream buns and that is what saved me. This was the time when I felt really sad and realized that I can expect nothing out of anyone. I previously had enough experiences with others to make me understand that there are no free lunches in this world. I used to trust and expect people to help out of kindness. But after being exploited enough, I came to the realization that people first calculate “What is in it for me?”, even if it was something that they can easily do without losing anything and women have much more to lose when they go seeking out help outside.

There was another time two years back when I came down with chickenpox and my husband was having a hard time managing the kitchen since he was not good at cooking other than managing some basic stuff. After a couple of days, he called both our mothers to see if any of them could come down to help us; although I was against the idea of inviting them. Both of them couldn’t make it due to their personal health reasons. This further reinforced my idea that we cannot expect much out of the close ones too. Ten days down the course and my husband also got infected and we both had a gala time managing the stuff all by ourselves. This was the time when I realized it would be better if my husband also learned cooking so he can at least feed himself even if he doesn’t like cooking for me. I had a real hard time achieving that. 😊

Last weekend we drove down to my parent’s place to spend the weekend there because the next two days we had a planned vacation along with the entire in-law’s family to celebrate my husband’s niece’s birthday. My parent’s place happens to be just halfway from our place to the vacation spot. We decided to drop by at my parent’s place on our return journey too so we could divide the travel time. On the fourth day right when we were about to start, we received a call from my sister-in-law stating that they had all tested positive for covid and started crying narrating her worry about the little one who is just 6 years old. So, we drove back directly to our place. I too had been feeling chills since that morning but I didn’t associate it with covid as I had played a lot in water the previous day. And ola I too was positive on covid when I tested the next day, but my husband was negative which we don’t believe (at least his symptoms are not as active).

My family has been super-duper extra cautious and fearful since the advent of covid 19 to the extent that they would perform steam inhalation every time anyone had to step out of the house. Owing to the news that the number of positive cases has come down, they gave themselves a little liberty, and there it was. What is bothering them and making them sad is that on hearing about their situation, the neighbors opposite their flat have left the city and the neighbors beside have shut all their doors and windows. There is no one during this time who has offered to help them with their food needs. Cooking is becoming a hassle for them since the women of the house became the worse hits of the infection than the men. Moreover, my dad has dietary restrictions which cancel out outside food delivery options.

For now, my husband is managing the kitchen well at our place, thanks to our previous experiences and preparations. Yesterday my husband called our neighbors and the apartment supervisor to inform them of our situation because everyone has been lax since the numbers have fallen down. I was just complaining to my husband that he could have done so after getting my cough syrup which I had been asking him to buy since the previous day as we will not be able to go out anymore when our intercom started ringing. The lady from the flat below ours called in to ask if we required anything and that they had an extra cough syrup from the time when they were infected three months back. We were shocked at this coincidence. She also told us that she is happy to add a little extra for us when she is cooking for her family. We thanked her and told her we will ask for help if the need arises. This family had recently moved into this flat and we didn’t even get a chance to exchange our pleasantries. Our other neighbors also started pouring in all kinds of help without asking. We are witnessing overflowing kindness. When you don’t expect, even a little kindness makes you feel grateful.

Life had taught me to not have too many expectations of anyone but did not teach me how and why not to blame or complain about it and not feel sad. It was Swamiji and one of his many bombarding messages “No one owes you anything”, that taught me to stop complaining and start accepting to be at peace. My recent spree of watching dramas series also helped me understand to regard the situation from others’ perspectives. It requires a little attitude tweak to feel better and not bitter. I hope I will be able to remember this at all times.

Thank you for reading.

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Jyoti Om

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