J is for Just like that

Last night, just when I finally kept my book down and decided to sleep – a tad earlier than usual because I’d had an annoying day and just wanted it to end – there was a power cut. Now power cuts are normal, we all know that. If it’s India, and it’s summer, and it’s night time where all you can do or should do is sleep because there is work the next day, of course power cuts are the norm.

I am no alien to power cuts. Having lived in UP my entire childhood, ‘load shedding’ is a natural phenomenon in summer, much like mangoes, only this is a stupid comparison because the commonality ends there. At the time, I would not understand the concept of 4-5 hour long power cuts in the middle of the night when everyone was fast asleep in the comforting din of the Air cooler, which had been painstakingly filled with water in the evening. Somehow, the power cuts in the day, when the sun is at it’s awesomest didn’t hurt as much because when did the heat matter when you were busy playing? Anyhow, I am used to power cuts, long power cuts, where the only option was to slather on Odomos and take your bedding to the terrace, and lie sand tare at the starry night, listen to owls on the Old Peepal tree hoot away, and finally fall asleep. It was regular.

Then came the Inverter era. This was close to magic. Having enough back up power to run atleast that one fan that whirred away, albeit way slower, was better than the hand fans which were the only resort before. So what if we all had to huddle into one room to save the stored power, atleast you could read better than we did in the light of the Petromax (and we did, a lot, especially before exams), which was like a mini sun on its own. And also, the fan kept the mosquitoes away.

But the last 4 years have spoilt us. In fact, when we bought this apartment and it said “Full power back-up (including ACs), I was almost shocked. I mean, I had seen people with generators in their houses in the past, and I used to think that was only for the super rich – being able to watch TV when there was a power cut. And here they were talking of ACs. So it was like a dream come true. In the last few years, while there have been power cuts, they have been momentary before the back up turned on in a jiffy, and we were back to doing whatever we were doing before (after complaining that we had to turn the AVR of the sound system again, damnit), and stupidly paying double the per unit cost, but then who cared?

Until last night, when the power went, and did not return. I mean it did, a couple of times, for like 5 minutes, before going again for gaps as long as 45 minutes. It was blasphemous, unheard of, shocking, and also very very hot. All the electronic gadgets were switched off, and I lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling, willing the back up to start working for good. It didn’t. Until 2 o clock, there was just no power. And to make us feel better, we were informed that this was a problem only in our Block in our Complex in our area. So special it made us feel.

What was funny, was just 2 days before, while I was putting Zo to sleep (more like trying. You can only try with Zo. Zo cannot be made to sleep. She is no robot. She is a person. She will sleep when sleep arrives and till then she will stare in the dark and sing and mumble and pull my ears. Let’s be clear about that.), and there was 2 minute power cut, I was telling Zo about the power cuts of yore, when we had to resort to newspapers and fans to keep us from sweating. And she was mesmerized by the thought of no AC while sleeping. And I smirked to myself about the children of today would never know the lives we had.

And then last night, while I walked around, trying to find a spot that did not feel claustrophobic, Zo didn’t even stir. She slept on, calmly, on the same bed, with the blanket around her legs. My baby Zo, who I thought was used to luxuries, did not even change her breathing pace through the night, and slept just as calmly, just as well, as she does in the ‘perfect room temperature’ I thought was a necessity for her.

I on the other hand, gave up at 2, and moved to the Balcony to a mat on the ground. The balcony was breezy, the ground was hard, it was bright and noisy from all the traffic and construction work around (because this is a city and a city never takes breaks and being on the 19th floor doesn’t matter) but I was too exhausted to have any more conditions. So I slept, and with a few breaks, finally woke up at 6:30 AM, when the sun was up – slightly sore, and with an ant bite on my lower lip.

I went back to bed, and The Dude groggily informed me that the power had been back for about an hour, but he didn’t want to wake me up. Zo was still asleep and in the same position as I had left her at 2. I fit myself in whatever space I could find, so that I could utilize the half hour I was getting under the fan, before we all woke up at 7 AM to start the rest of today.



3 thoughts on “J is for Just like that

  1. Rhonda Strong Gilmour

    You are a wonderful descriptive writer. I’ve never been to India, but your description of this everyday scene put me there with all my senses. And I agree completely with your comments about the impossibility of making a child sleep–very wise.
    @RhondaGilmour from
    Late Blooming Rose

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