India: Lockdown – Day One

I was alone, nowhere to go; the night before I had declared to myself that I would sleep late, luxuriate. But at 6:30 my eyes popped open, and that was that. I passed some time by playing at housewifery: tidied, made my bed, drank cold black coffee, looked out the window to see if anyone was defying the lockdown by taking a walk. Nope.

The previous day I had ordered groceries to be delivered: the PM had assured the nation that essential supplies such as food and water would not be interrupted. But instead of my delivery, there was an apologetic sms from the company: 

“Dear Customer,

Your order #—— scheduled for delivery today couldn’t be processed due to restrictions imposed by local authorities on the movement of goods in spite of clear guidelines, etc etc.”

So I decided to inventory what I had, plan ahead what and when to eat, make lists, and all that. I had just gone through the fridge and decided that a frittata would be the best thing under the circumstances — 

—and then I lost my mind, and began to make a batch of peanut butter cookies, like the ones my mother used to make. Only three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar, egg. Mix them together and roll the batter into balls and press a fork into them, and bake them for 12 minutes at 350 Fahrenheit, and you’re done. (I forgot to let the second batch cool, so they immediately fell apart. I could not save them.)

Reader, they were not the same as my childhood memories, nothing but sweetness, and I am sure that it was because of high-fructose corn syrup, which probably didn’t even exist when I was a kid.

Yes, and when I went back to put them in a container they were covered with ants, rushing to and fro. They must have been loving them. But one doesn’t want to waste food during a lockdown, so I removed as many as I could, and put the container in the freezer, as if that would resolve anything.

I listened to awful virus news, mainly about what was expected soon in New York City. At the same time, I understood at last, in my gut, not just intellectually, why my husband liked to have the TV on, even when he wasn’t paying attention: the hum of voices helped him not to feel alone. Leaving aside large-scale death and destruction, it is sad to understand things about a person when he cannot benefit from my understanding.

Oh, and I took a walk on the roof terrace at 9:40 a.m., and it was blindingly hot already, but there was a lovely cool breeze inserting itself between the heat-layers. I will try again tomorrow, when my eyes first pop open.

At 4:45 p.m., I was surprised that the day wasn’t over yet. And once again I understood something about my husband, too late.


  1. At least it was resolved that any remaining ants would perish at the sub-freezing temperatures! It is a new world we are confronting. Maybe Trumps is right. Get back to life as it used to be and let the weak perish. (Perish the thought.)


  2. By the way, corn syrup is indeed likely to be sweeter than granulated sugar by weight. It also just occurred to me that, here, you can buy peanut butter that has been unsweetened. I might try that next time. I do still love those cookies. Meanwhile, surely Modi will have to come back and make it clear that people are still expected to eat. Otherwise, he will be dealing with food riots.


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