Happy Anniversary to my Monthly Digest Series! ✨ Despite initial misgivings, I managed to churn out a blog post every single month over the last year, (barring Jan 2020 when I was holidaying in Dhaka), in a bid to be consistent in this space. It was not always a smooth ride. I was embarrassingly late on more than one occasion (my September Digest went live on 22nd October). Some months, I was almost on the verge of skipping (I labour over my blog posts and spend a LOT of time on them so the low readership kinda hurt). But I did not give up, and, to my surprise, was able to grow a niche following. Today, I am celebrating all of those ten people who follow me on www.themillennialma.com. Thank you SO much for being here!
April has always been a special month for me, with the double-barrelled celebrations of Bengali New Year (14th) and my Birthday (15th). In 2020, I am celebrating 31 years of life and one whole year of working motherhood (yay me!). From changing cities and daycares to dealing with a global pandemic, the beginning of my thirties was challenging and exhausting to the core. I grew tenfold as a parent and person.
Life in Lockdown
While last month we were watching the coronavirus approach us from afar, this month we were living life from within its underbelly, so far down, we didn’t even know which way was up or how far down we were. We might not be at war, but it definitely feels like something in that league. Covid-19 killed 4,731 Londoners in the four weeks to April 17th; in comparison, the Blitz killed 4,677 people during its deadliest four-week period. (The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against the United Kingdom in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War).
It’s hard to write about such a surreal experience when you are in the thick of it. As I cast around for words, the one that comes to me strongly and repeatedly, is ADAPTABILITY. Humans are adaptive creatures and that ability has never been put to test more rigorously than now. We have accepted changes in our lives we would not think possible just two months ago. They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, 66 days to fully integrate it with your lifestyle. That should make us seasoned quarantiners by now. If only it was as simple as that!
Tbh, lockdown life has started to feel more normal than novel this month. Supermarket supplies have vastly improved (hola loo rolls!), but items like flour remain as elusive luxuries. We’ve improvised new ways of working from home and tried out new things in the kitchen. We have donned and/or accepted the strange, omnipresent uniform of gloves, masks and distance maintaining etiquettes. We have embraced the snacks, the screen times (and screen breaks), the walks that save our day from feeling like one whole year, savouring the warm spells amidst the rainy days. Time has morphed into a strange phenomenon which stretches on and on, while we try to find our own routines within it. I did some DIY on my bangs and tache and feel quite accomplished as someone whose DIY skills are pretty much non-existent.
Work wise, the first half of April was very hectic for me. I fielded lots of TEAMS meeting with Aryan climbing all over me and my sanity. It was refreshing to see my colleagues outside their professional capacities, in a house with green walls and a dog barking in the distance. I worked hard on getting my project through an AP (Acceptance Panel) which I passed just as our (virtual) office closed for Easter. When it reopened on the 14th, I was on furlough.
Being on furlough is strange but for the most part, it did me good. As the first week came and went, I was still processing it. By the second week, I was relaxing into it by napping and going back to reading. By third week, it was Ramadan.
Money Heist dropped on Netflix on the 3rd of April, giving us a reason to binge watch TV after a long time. At that point, Spain was one of the hardest hit countries by coronavirus and as we watched MH, it helped us cope by escaping into an alternate reality.
Nizar is going all out on his new Disney+ subscription while I spend a lot more time in bed, napping like a school child. Furlough has forced me to slow down and I am loving it. Quarantine induced lethargy is also a factor, no doubt. I eagerly wait for Sundays to watch Killing Eve Season 3. The plot is reallllyyy stretching out but I love Villanelle TOO much to stop.
Furlough (how many times have I dropped this word?!) has certainly helped me in getting my reading mojo back. I started, finished – and loved – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (review here).
I have also started a #RamadanReads series, and a few of my followers are reading with me to grow their #MuslimShelfSpace. My first read is My Past is a Foreign Country by Zeba Talkhani.
Everyone warned me about the terrible twos being, well, terrible, but no one told me how equally terrific it is! The tantrums are BAD, set off by anything and everything, from a change of clothes to overtiredness that suddenly manifests itself without fair warning, but the sweetness of a 24 month old is unparalleled. Alhamdolillah a hundred times over. How did we get so lucky? I keep asking Nizar.
Aryan’s speech has been developing rapidly. He can label emotions and actions: ‘Crying’, ‘Hiding’, ‘Sleeping’ etc. His theatrics have also evolved: he coos for attention, and has assigned a stuffed elephant as his ‘baby’. He expects us to stop and acknowledge any little bump or cut he gets, nicknamed as ‘Boo Boo’. He also adds his name as a prefix to things to indicate possession e.g. ‘Aryan nose’ or ‘Aryan chicken’. His current favourite foods are macaroni with veggies, ice cream and black olives. His ever evolving YouTube sensation is Baby Jon who is teaching him words like ‘help’, ‘brother’ and BooBoo. His favourite time of the day is when we go out for our daily walk. He darts about like a loose canon, reveling in his freedom, until we physically drag him back home.
Thanks to this extra family time, Aryan is picking up lots of Bengali. His toddler versions of Benglish are beyond cute:
Yafoo – Yahoo
Choffa – Choshma
Bayaya – Balcony/Verandah
Ona – Over There/okhane
Diso – Dinosaur
Hummy Gy – Huggy Me (Hug Me)
Benge – Bhenge/Broken
Helicop – Helicopter
I am taking every opportunity to relish this extra time with my son, the only person in this world who can tire me out and give me joy in equal, exasperating measures, even in lockdown.
Recipe on Repeat
All the Ramadan staples including piyaju, chola, and doibora. And fried food, sigh. Its amazing how quickly your resolve can unfurl at the hands of piyajus and samosas.
Ramadan during a pandemic is missing the vital community spirit. The mosques are empty, there are no tarawih congregations, and we are making + eating all the piyajus by ourselves in tuna-tuni fashion (please tell me at least one of you got the reference). Jilapi has become the Muslim equivalent of banana bread as people take the excess time in their hands and turn it into culinary feats. I wonder from time to time how many Iftar parties we would have hosted by now with so many of our loved ones around us in London.
This is my first time fasting as a parent (last year I exempted myself as a breastfeeding mom and before that I was pregnant). At first, the combination of headaches, caffeine withdrawals and dealing with an overactive toddler while on the throes of hanger was difficult. Fortunately, adaptability is embedded in our DNA – the more I fasted, the easier it got. I keep saying daily thank yous to Allah for this strange, Ramadan-on-furlough situation which no doubt makes the whole process a LOT easier. I cannot help but wonder about Ramadans B.C (Before Corona) – how on earth did I manage to commute, work a full day, come back home AND prepare an Iftar spread? Again, the term adaptability comes to mind.
We indulged in quite a bit of Ramadan décor this year – another first. @lovelivegift kindly sent me one of their Islamic stationery bundles, filled to the brim with beautifully designed Eid cards, stickers, calendars and planners. Their Ramadan Wall Planner was amongst the first thing that went up in our apartment. Then I proceeded to update my seasonal window, hung up stars and moons string lights, and created a DIY corner with a bunting, wreath and wall decals. I might just do a separate post to capture the finer aspects.
The end of the beginning or the beginning of the next phase. As The Economist aptly put it: ‘Leaving lockdown is a process, not an event.’ One thing is for sure – the exit path from lockdown wont be straightforward.
Looking forward to Eid, albeit in Quarantine, and the end of furlough In Sha Allah.