As the first lockdown unfolded in March 2020, friends and connoisseurs told me that this would be a fruitful time for creative persons. “You have so much time to dream, think and create”. Just for a moment, I too believed this fallacy. The linear equivalence drawn between free time and creativity seemed logical. What it did not describe, though, was the meaning of free time. It is assumed that free time exists when we are doing nothing. That ‘nothing’ comes from not participating in physical or intellectual activity, which entails busy-ness of action and the ensuing transaction with the outside world. These, we are made to believe, robs us of an uncluttered mind. Free time is the opposite! A private, unconditional space that allows our mind and body to dive deep into unexplored depths, unhindered by commitment. The lockdown, I was told, provided artistes, writers and creative people this opportunity.
This was just not correct. Were we really free? The free-ness I speak of is not physical mobility but emotional and psychological fluidity. An environment where ideas emerge, move, marinate and then—in a burst of inspiration—flow into form. The lockdown was the antithesis of this state. The mind was clouded, a heavy fog permanently hung over our heads. The Covid pandemic not only instilled the fear of suffering and death in us, but also clogged our evocative spirit. We were trapped in a dense cold prison with high walls that shut out all light. Our minds were permanently drawn towards numbers. How many were infected today, we wondered? How many died? The words we typed most often on our keyboards were Covid, Corona, Covid-19, pandemic, Covid statistics or Covid meter. We were desperate to understand more about this virus. Which vaccine can we take and when?