The chat line kept on buzzing all day. Alia, who had started this chat line to provide counselling to the people who were struggling to fit into this new scenario of a lockdown, was unable to take all calls. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries of the world were under complete lockdown for long periods. Lives had turned upside down, the economy had taken a huge plunge and people belonging to all strata of life were just trying to survive, in the best ways that they could. Alia was sort of prepared for the upheaval that all this would cause. Being a psychologist, she could foresee the problems that people would face.
“Hello Alia, may I please speak with you for a few minutes? Yeah? I am Elana, a working professional with two children, barely two years and five years of age. My husband too needs to work all day for his office and he does try to chip in, in running our house, as much as he can; but that is not enough! The kids need us 24/7 and, without any help now, what do we do with these little ones? It has been two weeks of the lockdown and I am miserable. My kids are getting on my nerves and my work, which I have always loved, has now become a big source of stress! Please help me, please do!” Could Alia hear her breaking down?
“Calm down Elana! I understand the huge problem that you are facing. Calm down please, and do take a few sips of water first. Well, that’s better. Elana, these are absolutely abnormal times and the whole world is into it, together. Having said that, each one of us has to deal with the situation in the best possible manner. I know you are trying your best, you really would be! The only thing to check is, if we are getting the desired results. If not, then we should calmly rethink and modify our efforts. The most important feeling to my mind, which could help, is the feeling of being connected to each other. This feeling of togetherness, gives us strength. It will make you realise that it is not only you, but your husband, and even the little ones, who all are struggling in their own ways. In such adverse times, communication plays a huge role. Unfortunately, we ignore this significantly important requirement named ‘Communication’ in our lives, during our normal times. Elana, are you there?” enquired Alia, gently.
“Yes, Alia, I am very much with you. In fact, I am already feeling better. Things are making sense. Please continue,” Elana replied softly.
“ Elana, just switch on to the ‘trying to understand’ mode from ‘trying to be understood’ mode. Accept the situation and then go about it, calmly, giving every segment that much of attention according to the value you assign to it. The problem stems from the fact that our speech and our actions do not match. Try to match them, and you will see the difference in the outcome, and also in your own stress levels. If you say your kids need you and your work needs you too, then please put in equal amount of efforts on both the fronts. What happens is, while we say our kids are the most important to us, our actions do not match this in any way. And hence the stress. Also Elana, as a working parent, maybe you are not used to being with your kids and looking after them, completely by yourself, all day long. Whereas, working for your office for the longest of hours, may not pose any problem to you, isn’t that so? In these times of uncertainty, holding on steadfastly to hope, is a wise thing to do. Good that you called Elana, because being able to speak out is in itself a big stress buster. Just take every day in your stride; eat healthy, sleep well, and spend happy times together with your family. This will take you a long way. Call again, if you need to. All the best to you for a life that is more beautiful, than what it is now. Take care,” and she hung the phone.
Alia’s teenaged son, Varun, was laying out the table for lunch. As they sat down to have a quick bite, Varun asked,
“Mom, I keep hearing you on the phone, talking with people and trying to counsel them in these difficult times. But there are a few words that I see you using commonly in all your conversations; words such as love, communication, hope, togetherness, acceptance, etc. etc. You really believe these are the key requisites in one’s life?”
“Yes Varun, I do believe so! Think and see for yourself. By nature, human beings wants company, love and care. They always want to share their achievements, failures; but, having not worked on their communication skills enough, fail to do so. Any person you can see, any person who has reached the highest pinnacle in his/her career, craves to share. Even the most enlightened ones, want to share their wisdom. You may rarely find a person who is alone, into himself, and yet is happy. He may try to live in an illusion, but everyone is the happiest when he has people who understand, love, and care for him/her. The feeling of being wanted, being needed, is an ultimate high Varun, and this empowers one with so much of strength and so much of courage, to brace the toughest of situations, calmly. I refer to these words as “The Stilts of Life,” smiled Alia as she got up and ruffled his hair. Her phone was ringing again.
“Hello, this is Alia, how can I help you?” her voice, reflecting genuine affection and care, filled the room. Varun went and gently hugged his mother, before leaving the room.