It’s the eighth week of the lockdown, and I’m walking around barefoot. Not because I’m trying to emulate the legendary artist MF Hussain who went about barefoot because he liked the feel of the earth under his feet. Or because of some vow to not wear any footwear until the corona virus goes away. And least of all because I think my bare feet will serve as a mark of support and gratitude to the frontline COVID-19 warriors. In hindsight though, the above reasons might have gotten me my 15 seconds of fame on social media, and maybe even television. The fact that it would’ve made my family crack up (laughing till they cried), explains why I didn’t even try going down that path. Yup, my family can be quite irreverent like that…thank the good lord!
Anyway, getting back to exactly why I’m barefoot. I have a Beagle puppy/teenager – I’m not sure technically which as he turned one at some point during the lockdown and there is some math of dog year versus human year involved to calculate that. Pluto (the aforementioned Beagle) chewed up the slippers I used to wear around the house after having demolished the spare pair earlier. This was some time before I discovered the nibbled toes of the slip-ons and mangled uppers of the jootis. So, when the lockdown was announced at such short notice, I had to decide between running (my sneakers are fine, just the laces are chewed up) to the shoe shop or heading to the grocery store/vegetable vendor/milk outlet. Just for a split second the struggle was real, but then the survival instinct kicked in and better sense prevailed. Thus, the reason why I’ve been walking around the house doing all my chores barefoot since the past eight weeks. Since my sneakers (the ones with the chewed up laces) are the only pair of ‘sensible’ footwear (all delicate and/or strappy shoes and heels have been mothballed until further notice) left intact, they are guarded no less than the family jewels and kept locked up at all times and taken out only when I need to take the aforementioned perpetrator for his walks or step out for procuring only ‘essential goods’.
You know, I really think footwear ought to be considered as ‘essential goods’ after having been barefoot through the lockdown these past two months (that feel more like two hundred years). The floors of the kitchen and bedroom (where I can be found 22.5 hours in a day) will concur after having been swept and mopped on a loop any number of times in a day. Then there’s the Dettol infused basin of water in the washroom with extra towels on standby that bear testimony to the OCD levels of wash feet-dry feet-apply some lotion to feet-repeat.
Pluto (the reason why I’m barefoot) isn’t complaining of course as it’s given him extra body parts to chew on every chance he can get. It’s this very chewing-of-all-he-surveys thing that’s ensured multiple trips to the veterinarian through the various versions of the lockdown. A course of three injections followed by 5 days of antibiotics (half tablet in the morning, half in the evening), a whole bunch of investigations to check various parameters, supported by multi vits (and vanilla ice cream) gave me sleepless nights because he had stopped eating. Actually, I should have been expecting it considering that bits of most of my footwear (except my sneakers, thank god) had been through his stomach!
Anyway, getting back to my story, I seem to have won the approval of the kindly neighbourhood oldies who nod their endorsement upon seeing me walk around the garden bare feet, taking it as some kind of immunity strengthening exercise that I’m following. The grass at least is kind to my feet, the edges of furniture and doors, on the contrary, are quite unforgiving. What all this has done to my poor feet you can imagine when I tell you the quandary it’s going to be to decide where to go first when the ‘stand alone neighbourhood shops’ (as per expected guidelines of yet another lockdown) open up – the shoe shop or the pedicure place.
My barefooted dilemma, I have to confess, has also made me question liquor being categorised as ‘non-essential’. A little wine would have surely helped mitigate the lockdown travails (some days more than others), through the work from and ‘at’ home when the battle fatigue started to set in. At this juncture as the countdown to the end of the present lockdown begins, there are a couple of thoughts. I would like to urge the powers-that-be and the citizens-that-are to be ‘sensible’ in the making and the following of the safety guidelines so that we can all hope for some modicum of normalcy (with a request that a considered view be taken on the review of the categorisation of ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’). Thank you.
Image Credit : Shagun Nayar