Authors

The Goa Writers Group is blogging about the lockdown

A photograph by Vivek Menezes

A photograph by Vivek Menezes  

The nationwide lockdown has changed how we live our lives, with anxiety and uncertainty often taking over as we stay confined within four walls. In Goa, 50-odd people are making this an opportunity to do something creative and, hopefully, inspire others. The Goa Writers Group — with members scattered across India, USA, the UK, Canada and Australia and veteran writers and poets like Damodar Mauzo, Victor Rangel-Ribeiro and Salil Chaturvediare in its ranks — has started a blog. The Lockdown Journals (thelockdownjournals.wordpress.com), a month-old venture, has already shared 50 posts, including articles, essays, poems and photographs.

“This is an extraordinary moment when people all over the world — billions of us — are all experiencing variations of the same thing: curfew, lockdown, isolation, solitude,” says writer Vivek Menezes, who took forward the idea pitched by fellow member, humour columnist Sheela Jaywant, of recording experiences of these unprecedented times. “We derive great comfort from fellowship with others by sharing what’s on our minds, how we’re coping.”

Working through the worry

Some of the more popular posts revolve around topics like food and health. Jaywant addresses scarcity of food that she has faced throughout her life — be it because of riots, drought or political unrest — in her article, A Festival of Scraps and Leftovers. Her experiences, she admits, has led to her learning the trick to cook creatively.

Meanwhile, Menezes’ article, Lockdown 1556, looks to history, at poet Luís Vaz de Camões (1524-1580) who spent 15 years in exile in Goa, which, many believe, made him the great poet he is. “What Camões achieved under lockdown is extraordinarily important. It made him to the Portuguese what Dante is to modern Italian or Shakespeare to English.”

Writer Aniruddha Sen Gupta’s piece, Things We Don’t Talk about When We Talk about the Virus, details his wife’s medical condition, Covid-19 and his anxiety about who will look after their two dogs if they are shifted to hospital quarantine. The post was widely shared on social media. Another popular one: designer Bina Nayak’s To my husband, whose body was ‘locked down’ by his brain. It speaks about their harrowing experience after her husband was diagnosed with Cerebral Meningo-Encphylitis, just before the lockdown. “A bright spot was, after 38 days, when I hired a hospital bed and wheel chair for my husband’s discharge, the owner asked me if I wanted anything else. I said I missed eating chocolate. He sent me KitKats! I was very touched,” she says.

Looking homeward

Poems on nature, solitude and the mass migration of daily wage earners also pepper the blog. Salil Chaturvedi’s Lockdown: The Long Walk Home gives an account of the latter. “Writing, especially poetry, is a thing of ‘measure’ for me — one measures the self and the world through it.”

For others, the lockdown has given them a chance to re-define what is home and belonging. Management consultant Rachana Patni’s longing speaks about her hometown Imphal, where she has experienced lockdowns, bunds and strikes while growing up. Comparing lockdown with curfew in her hometown she says, “In my hometown, when lockdowns and curfews happened, we knew we were to stay indoors, but there was no fear that those we are with might be harmed by us or vice versa. This added element makes for a completely different experience psychologically and practically. Worrying about children and the elderly, about being asymptomatic, creates an undercurrent of anxiety in interactions. It will leave a lasting impact on all of us.” Once lockdown lifts, she hopes to travel again. “I will go to my home in Manipur from my home in Goa; I will grow wings if I need to. Love can do these things,” she says.

With the lockdown extended, expect artwork to be added to the blog, too.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 7:12:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/the-goa-writers-group-is-blogging-about-the-lockdown/article31487186.ece

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