It’s been just over a week since both my full-time help tested positive with the virus. I refuse to take its name any more. Though their cases have turned out to be mild, it’s been a harried week, to say the least. 
Hours were spent agonising on whether I could/should treat them at home or send them to a centre (not easy I discovered). But without boring you with the details… let me say they were best looked after at home! 

Organising their food, and monitoring the parameters and medication while they stay isolated; cleaning the house, washing my clothes and utensils, while also isolating myself, since I was a primary contact, has been an incessant, intense state of being. There have been several times in a day when it all felt insurmountable. 

Yet I have so much to be grateful for. I have wonderful neighbours and friends, who took the load of cooking off me and sent me delicious, nourishing, hearty meals from their homes. 

But my phone keeps buzzing with these WhatsApp messages, sometimes scathing, sometimes helpless, sometimes scarily grim about the terrible mismanagement of the pandemic in our country. It’s all too overwhelming even as I close my eyes and try to shut off my noisy mind. 

I pick up my phone to distract myself and challenge myself to a game of Solitaire. I really can do with a small win. I often watched my mother play Solitaire with a physical deck of cards and as I bustled around with high hopes and busy life, I remember wondering how it entertained her. It was one of the few things that could make her sit in one place for extended periods of time, unhurried and focused as she turned over a card and tried to fit it in the grand scheme of things. 

I stumbled on it much later, as this humble 18th-century game made a comeback when it was pre-loaded onto our phones and computers. I perhaps gravitated towards it because my mother was not around anymore, and it reminded me of her. But a few games in, I was hooked. It was then I discovered that it is not played for just entertainment, but for comfort. In the myriad puzzles, life throws at you, here is one you may be able to solve. Studies have shown that Solitaire is a great game for calming the mind because it puts you into a light meditative state and that entering a calm state can improve your decision-making abilities.

I complete my game and get up to meet the challenges the rest of the day might throw at me. Solitaire is also called Patience. It’s something I could use right now.

Neerja Shah

Former Editor of Elle India & TV Producer

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