‘As If Virus Wasn’t Bad Enough, Down Came A Cyclone’

Sweata Jaiswal Singh, 37, says she hasn’t seen a bigger disaster than Amphan in her entire life in Kolkata. Singh says her three-year-old son is still not over the trauma

I have been born and brought up in Kolkata but never in the 37 years of my life have I witnessed the state of destruction as brought on by cyclone Amphan. I live in one of the busiest areas of Kolkata, i. e. Howrah and we suffered big time. There was water logging everywhere and our electricity supply got disrupted. The motor in our society malfunctioned and we had to use water drawn by boring pumps. But that was also difficult because of the erratic power supply. We had somewhat normal electricity and water supply only on the third day, i. e around May 22.

The past two months have proved to be quite difficult for us. I have a 7 year old daughter and a 3 year old son and both have been cooped up in our home for two months now due to coronavirus. Both my husband and I are in the banking sector and both don’t have the luxury of working from home and thus we have finally agreed upon a schedule where we go to our respective offices on alternate days.

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Most kids have both their parents at homes and my kids see both of us going to work. They have their online classes going on as well. We find it very difficult to adjust to so many changes all at one go, first we adjusted to the lockdown, then having to go to office during lockdown, then working from home on alternate days during lockdown, then having no access to household help and managing both home and work, as well as helping the kids adjust to these changes.

Would you believe it: my parents live in the nearby society, but it has been two months since I have seen them? My kids are so used to seeing their Nana-Nani regularly that they now wonder when they will be able to see their grandparents again.

My son is still scared from what he saw on Wednesday and asks me many times:  “Mumma, will the storm come again and again?” He was scared of both the sights and sounds during Amphan’s landfall. I don’t have an answer to his questions but bigger and bigger cyclones have been hitting India for the past few years.

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I got ready to go to office the next day after the cyclone, but since the roads were all blocked because of water logging and because trees had fallen, I had to come back to my home. Internet services are a lifeline in these times and they have been affected as well.

Thankfully our society had managed grocery and all beforehand so there is no shortage of food items. But 2020 has turned out to be such an uncertain year that one wonders what is going on. It feels as if no matter how prepared we are nature is proving to be smarter than us. Hope we learn from all this and also learn to respect nature.