Akshara, 35, is a content writer and lives in Delhi.
Hopes and prayers
My husband Sameer is in the merchant navy so long separations, with just weeks of togetherness has been the way of life for me. In whatever less time we get to be together, we have devised our own system to spend some quality time together - celebrating at least two special occasions together. This year, it was going to be mine and kid’s birthday that fall in March and July, respectively.
Sameer set out to sail at the end of September, with a plan to return in Feb-end. The timeline seemed to be on shaky ground once reports of the novel Coronavirus spread started emerging from China. I hoped, prayed and held on to every ounce of optimism I could muster to get through an unnerving and impossibly long three months.
Realising that all international travel could be suspended soon, he requested an early sign-off in January end, just days before the first case was reported in the country. After a lot of delays, he was let off on March 1. It wasn’t until March 5th that he’d get home.
Excited, and immensely relieved, to have him home, I made elaborate plans to pick him up at the airport and whisk him away for a romantic dinner. Reservations were made, a dress picked out, hair and nails done.
My plans dashed to the ground with a single text informing me that his employer had added a 14-day mandatory home quarantine clause to his release form. I was asked to sanitise and set up an outer room in the apartment that had a separate entrance for this stay.
Putting away the dress and slipping into my most worn-out set of PJs and rolling my freshly blow-dried hair into a bun, I set out to clean, dust and sanitise the room. Left the entrance door opened, and quietly retreated into my bedroom.
Broke my heart
The sight of his side of the bed remaining untouched for the next 14 days even when he was less than 20 feet away from me broke my heart. The lump in my throat was the size of a football by now, and I was ready to bawl at the drop of a hat. But the kid’s tear-stained, long face, forced me to hold myself together.
After several peeps through the door and balcony, text exchanges, I knew he was in the elevator. Oh, the agony of not being able to run out the door and wrap my arms around him! He announced his arrival by shouting from the other side of the door that stood between us, I planted a kiss on the wooden plank staring me in the face. For the next two weeks, food, coffee, water was left outside his door in a dinner wagon, which he accessed after we had retreated from the spot.
We continued to speak to each other over video calls just like we did when he was a 1,000 miles away. After putting the kid to bed, we’d arrange a date, with I sitting on one side of the door and him on the other, sipping on our drinks, talking and seeing each other through the virtual lens.
Sexting and shower
This was often followed by sexting and orgasms that would linger on till the wee hours of the night and then hugging a pillow in his stead. One morning, we even hopped into the shower together – he in his, I in mine, together on a video call – relying on our imagination to make up for each other’s touch.
At the end of two weeks, thankfully, he didn’t display a single worrying symptom. So, he was free to walk out of that den and into our lives. Incidentally, it was the evening of March 18 – the birthday eve.
After spending a better part of the evening with the kid, he finally put her to bed. And then, we got down to put to practice every whim and fancy we had discussed over the past 14 days. By Jove, it was the best way to ring in the 35th year of my life!
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.