My grandmother walked into my room awkwardly holding her phone in hand with a confused look on her face. I had seen that face in the past; it conveyed a feeling of exasperation and frustration with technology. ‘Beta my Facebook is not working again, what should I do?’ I took her phone and saw that she had opened the YouTube app so I said ‘Nani this is YouTube, not Facebook’ to which she replied, ‘yeah yeah whatever it is called, fix it’. I played her favouritebhajan and with a happy look on her face she took the phone and made her way back to her bedroom. Her interest in technology has spiked in the quarantine period.
Later I went to check on her, as I entered the room ‘NamoNamojiShankara’ was playing in the background and she was busy stitching a pyjama for me. She looked at me, smiled and said ‘I’m getting very bored, what should I do?’ Her normal schedule includes a short stroll in the park at our apartment complex followed by a yoga session for the old women in the complex. She has been an active member of that group and tries sincerely to complete the asanas.
Since the lockdown has been implemented due to Covid19 we have asked her not to leave the house and she is highly disappointed. She misses her valuable exchanges with her friends downstairs and absolutely detest being at home all day. Every time that I step out to buy groceries she walks to the door as fast as she can and says ‘mere kobhi le chal (take me along)’. The excitement in her eyes is that of a 4-year-old girl who sees her favourite toy in a marketplace and asks her parents to buy it for her. It is hard to disappoint her but my mother takes care of that, she comes and says to her ‘Amma, come inside, you know you can’t go out’ and with a heartbroken expression Nani returns to her room.
In the evening I took out my old Ludo board game and set it up on the table. I got the others in the house to settle down around it and then called Nani. She came to the table and was delighted at the sight of the game. She sat down and said ‘I’m blue!’ and the game started. With every kill that she made, her laughter grew louder and with every kill that was made on her tokens she said ‘arre, koi baatnahi! (oh, that’s alright)’ and laughed with the same zeal. When my mother and sister started ganging up against me in the game she very sternly said ‘no! that is not fair! That is cheating’ and when I convinced her to do the same with them she happily took part.
It was a real pleasure to see her so involved in a game of Ludo. It fulfilled her need for social interaction and we all had a great time together as well! It has now become a part of our daily routine.
Abner Manzar, 21
HelpAge India Volunteer