Since childhood evenings have been my favourite part of the day. Always waited eagerly for the clock to strike 5 pm so that one could step out into the carefree world of games played in the open fields (not on computer screens). The parks/ grounds used to be full of people of all ages, playing, walking, or just sitting and talking. Fathers/ husbands used to be back at home well before the dark those days. ‘Woh bhi kya din they’, The good times, when moms believed that playing in the fields was good for growth of the child; boosted his immunity. No one was worried about germs and viruses catching on. Women folk used to use the evening time to exchange ideas/ recipes. Love flourished, relationships developed in parks, by the lake sides or under a tree. Later part of the evening was always free for socialising.
As one grew up and joined the working class, the culture changed. The MNCs came to the country and the tutorial classes too came into fashion. The middle aged spent more and more time behind the workstations in the office. Fathers/ husbands hardly came back home from office before night fall. Stress could be smelt and felt in the air. I still did not give up on my love of evenings and went for long walks, but the environment had changed. The parks had the presence of only elders and toddlers (some accompanied by their moms). The grownup kids started spending evenings in the AC environment of the coaching classes. The lovers were nowhere to be seen in the parks or by lake sides. The phones and the internet became the media for socialising and playing games. The love now took the help of social media and phones to develop and flourish. Deceit joined in with fake IDs being used at times. TV serials and News channels took over the socialising time. An era of NEWS and fake news started. We could not decide whether internet connected or separated people.
Then came 2020 and the by accompanied by infamous Ms Corona and turned the world upside down. Everyone got locked down inside homes, Grand parents and kids forgot the parks. Husbands/ fathers who barely reached homes by midnight started working from home. Social media not only emerged as the sole saviour of lovers, students but also became the only means for housewives to exchange ideas and recipes. The evening comes daily at the appointed time but hardly anyone has time for it. The fear of Corona coming in contact outside has more or less, stalled all movements outside. The NEWS channels are not leaving any stone unturned to add fuel to fire and paint Corona scarier than actually it is. I am sure, like me, many others have stopped tuning into the News channels.
I am fortunate, since I reside in a large campus having open spaces, I still get to go for my evening walks, but the roads are empty and the parks vacant, no smiles on the faces of rare people who walk past (all faces covered under masks). Yes, I miss the long drives and the coffee dates (with my wife off course) which we often went for. The air is cleaners now but loaded with stress and fear.
“Ab to chup chaap shaam atee hai….
Pehle chidyon ke shor hote they” Mohd Alvi
(The evenings which used to be so lively have suddenly gone quiet) In the time of this COVID pandemic when negative is what everyone is wanting to be, I wish to remain positive and I am hopeful…..
“Woh shaam phir laut ker ayegee,
Khusbu phir hawaaon mein chaayege,
Phir chehron per Muskaan wapas ayegee,
Mohabbat phir jheel kinaare dera lagayegee”
(The evenings will be back soon)