Essentials of Living: Santosh Bakaya (Prose)

Santosh Bakaya

The Untold Story 

[Essentials of Living: A survival guide in the Pandemic- stalked times] 

I have always loved to narrate stories and reiterated that I would never want my tales to be buried in quiescent graves, so, a vainglorious me, considering myself a consummate raconteur, have always loved telling those stories that keep tumbling down from those hidden nooks and crannies of the heart. 
I have always laughed a lot and kept a safe distance from people who are grumpy without a reason and crib a lot. 
Yes, my family believes, that I am perennially on a high, driven by a maniacal frenzy, as if there will be no tomorrow to scribble my thoughts. Sometimes, working on ten or eleven projects, yet managing to complete all. This might appear as though I am blowing my own trumpet, but that is how things are. 
Sometimes the so called creative chaos is reflected everywhere in the house. 
On the dining table, in the kitchen, on the sofa, on the stool, on the chairs. And yes, also on the writing table.  Sheets and sheets of paper which I have asked Kanchan to leave untouched when she is sweeping and mopping. 
“Don’t touch that piece of paper.”
 “Don’t touch that bookmark.” 
“Don’t touch the laptop.” 

But one day, five months back, all this stopped. No exhortations, no reprimands. No tantrums. No high decibel shouts. My family found me just lying on the bed, peering into the ceiling. 
A virus that had been trying to wreck the world, had killed something inside me. Something seemed to have been irreparably broken. Who could have ever thought that all those disaster movies which I had seen in the past, would suddenly decide to do a macabre dance right before our eyes? My heart screamed, but my lips turned quiet, so did my pen. 
 When I heard my daughter on the phone desperately trying with her young friends in different volunteer groups to arrange beds\oxygen\for unknown people, my heart broke into thousand smithereens; when youngsters lost their jobs due to a virus’s whims, my heart plumbed down to abysmal depths. It was as if I couldn’t breathe- my very survival seemed to be at stake. 
I stopped laughing, stopped writing, and reading.   My family got panicky, my friends worried. They guessed something was amiss, because I was not answering any calls. 
“Mummy, why don’t you write? Your computer table looks lonely.” Daughter asked me, befuddled. 
“Mummy does nothing but stares into nothingness.” She told her dad. 
Yes, staring into nothingness had become my favourite pastime.

 A petrified husband called my brother. 
“If she continues like this, I will put Baby on anti- depressants.” Said my doctor brother. My Kid brother, actually, who continues to be audacious enough to call me Baby! 
“Has she not started writing again?” One day, I heard my elder brother asking my husband on phone.
“When will mom be back to her normal self?” While lying on the bed and staring into nothingness, I heard my daughter whispering into her father’s ears.

  Then came the phone calls. From my Facebook friends. 
One after the other, which I did not pick. 
Where are you? Why aren’t you on Facebook? Why don’t you pick up our calls? Are you okay? 
Why don’t you …?
Then followed a cascade of gifts, from some known, some unknown sources. Again from some so-called Facebook friends, I had never met. These were friends whom I had made random calls to in the past, when I had read that they were unwell.

 “Why are you not writing these days?
 “Where are your Morning Meanderings?”
 “If you can’t write, just compile your old writings. We know they are scattered all over Facebook.” Someone suggested.

Then, all of a sudden, I could feel something bursting inside me. 
 That very moment, to the bamboozled joy of husband and daughter, I threw away the quilt and headed towards the writing table. 
This time my fingers did not jab frantically on the keyboard, but picked up a pen-a gift from a dear Facebook friend, a Sheaffer pen. She told me that ever since she had heard me recite my poem, My Dad’s Sheaffer Pen, she had been so touched that wanted to present me one.  
So, it was with a lump in my throat, unshed tears in my eyes, and a quiver in my fingers, that I started writing, with this heart- warming gift.  And with a vengeance too, if I may be allowed to use the cliché. Yes, clichés do help at times. I was taking revenge against what I had almost mutated into. 
It was writing which once again came to my rescue, proving therapeutic, and healing.  For the first time, it was when I had lost my mother seven years back on 9 January, 2015, my hastily scrawled poems on my mother had rejuvenated me. 
And this time again, it was writing which rescued me. 
And love-lots and lots of it. From so-called friends whom I had met only in the virtual world.
Later, when I was a little back to my normal, gregarious self, my husband quipped, “When the sight of a diligent monkey de-lousing another monkey, very conscientiously,   did not send you into a string of juvenile giggles, I realized something was really very, very wrong. You appeared almost sane, which set alarm bells ringing.”

Let readers snigger at me for singing paeans for what they might call a clinging, cloying sentimentality, but I strongly maintain that the four letter word LOVE keeps the world moving. Let the flibbertigibbets crinkle their noses, let the cynics heap venom, but I will continue swearing by the word LOVE. Our Bapu was the very personification of love, and as Martin Luther King Jr. says, “Hate is too great a burden to bear, I have decided to stick with love”. The way the frontline workers, and hordes of volunteers worked round the clock selflessly, it was compassion, kindness and love at work. 

 Bell Hooks, the phenomenal American writer who died on December 15, 2021, who wrote All about Love, a New York Times bestseller, says that people are divided because the society has failed to provide a ‘model for learning to love”. “Everywhere we learn that love is important, and yet we are bombarded by its failure…. This bleak picture in no way alters the nature of our longing. We still hope that love will prevail. We still believe in love’s promise.” 
She also says, “the light of love is always in us, no matter how cold the flame. It is always present waiting for the spark to ignite, waiting for the heart to awaken.”

I don’t think it is ever too late to ignite that spark of love to illumine the world.
 Come, let us join hands and reclaim our humanity. Let us upholster our lives with love. Let us yearn for LOVE. Let LOVE prevail.
I hear our very own Mukesh sing my favorite song from Anari
kissi ki muskurahaton pey ho nissar, 
kissi ka dard mil sakey to ley udhar, 
kissi key waastey ho terey dil mai pyaar 
Jeena isi kaa naam hai. 

As I cap my sheaffer pen, John Denver sings from the neighbour’s house: 
You fill up my senses 
Like a night in the forest 
Like the mountains in springtime 
Like a walk in the rain

Yes, let us fill up our senses with LOVE, and let us breathe again.   
We are empowered enough to unleash a pandemic of love.  It is never too late for LOVE.


  1. Wonderfully written!
    Experience speaks here.
    So much positivity!
    And how could I miss saying about the usage of language? Rich vocabulary!

  2. A fantastic read. Love is the axis on which the universe evolves. Your way with words is very fascinating. A rich piece of writing.

  3. A fantastic read. Love is the axis on which the universe evolves. Your way with words is very fascinating. A rich piece of writing.

  4. A fabulous piece of writing, written with full feeling and passion and giving the reader a very encouraging message of positivity and optimism.

  5. Such a beautiful and inspiring write up. I can completely understand the feeling. Thank God you're back and what a comeback! More power to your pen.


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