The headline of the narrative already says it all so I will not begin from there. What did Covid 19 do to our lives? It forced us to stay at home and not go out unless it’s really important (no hugs too; I recently happened to hug my flatmate and realised what I’ve been missing for so long), sanitise whatever you use, wash hands regularly or use sanitizers and most importantly wear a mask while going out (neither your face is visible nor can you see other people). The pandemic distanced people or forced them to live together or gave them an opportunity to be together. For me, it was none of the above.
When this whole drama of pandemic began I had my own conspiracy theory that it is meant to distract people from protesting against CAA/NRC/NPR and further impact the survivors of Delhi pogrom; an act of violence against Muslims of north east part of Delhi. Dating was all separate from this life, for almost three to four months from December to March last week I could not meet anyone because of physical and mental exhaustion and wanted to remain participating in more protests, raise my voice against government apathy and volunteer with groups/ organisations working with the survivors of Delhi pogrom. I had no time to concentrate or think of dating with my complete focus on what was happening in Delhi. Hence, my life before the physical protests and after the pandemic went upside down.
I’ve been active on Tinder and other dating apps before December 2019 after a happy breakup in June 2019. I met a really beautiful soul few times and we discontinued dating when they generously asked that it would not work between us. I met a couple of more people in person but it is not required to mention them here because cis gendered heterosexual men can be a big pain which is an every time reminder. After a big hauling gap I started swiping right again because then I was in a complete void (though still asking for more work during initial days of lockdown and indulging in other volunteer activities) living with parents and no one knew how long it is going to last.
When the lockdown began, I was talking to random people on dating apps, familiar with the fact that I do not want to meet them. It was out of need that I keep talking to strangers not with an idea of dating them but to avoid the loneliness and over thinking that happens when mind wanders off. For me talking to different people sometimes build perspective too. It doesn’t really matter who all I spoke to but there was a certain relief that there are people I can speak to, definitely not rely on but talk because strangers are the best people to talk about your life and your fears in a continuing journey of knowing self.
Background is important to set up, so I can talk about them. Let’s call them Suki (because I promised them to borrow my copy of Suki by Suniti Namjoshi when we get to meet) who I continued to talk to almost every day on phone or text message from the very beginning of lockdown. They make me curious. I guess it is not often that you meet people who are very different from you but still interests you and you want to know more about them and keep looking for similarities. They are a workaholic and according to them if it wasn’t the lockdown we would not have spoken to each other and I cannot agree more.
From the last few people I spoke over dating apps before December 2019, this was the first time I didn’t meet Suki immediately and who knows how long will it be. Having these 4 months are the worst not only because we haven’t met but because logically we haven’t dated yet and there continuous to be a confusion around the relationship we share. It is also unimaginable for me to stick to one person without meeting them for this long but I guess most of us face it especially single queer folx, maybe due to lack of self-confidence. While talking I realized it was difficult for them to express themselves and use full sentences in a conversation and strangely it doesn’t have to do anything with me. The reason is solely that we have not met and we are still alien to each other. This experience is bizarre but I am amazed with the resilience that I’ve built during this time. I am an impatient being who likes things planned ahead of time and if they do not happen as planned it affects me; but in this relationship nothing is planned; it may go ahead it may not and both of us are prepared for it to go either ways.
We have recently shifted to video calls which are highly uncomfortable and awkward for them. Having physical meetings, conversations, touch, sensing things in their immediacy are so innate in our lives that to build a relationship by talking over virtual means is impossible. It sounds like a struggle but it is not, maybe because that is how it is supposed to be and somewhere both of us seem to be committed to it.
It is actually kind of special what we share during this lockdown but the future is really far as both of us are insanely worried about the virus transmission especially as I have started going out for work and they have shifted to their home town. Let’s see where this leads us to.