The Privilege of Boredom




The sun is shining, and so will the moon tonight. The leaves rustle in the quiet wind as the squirrels' squabble about the low boughs of the peepal tree outside my balcony. It is a balmy day; undecided, breezy in bits. I have only just finished my second cup of tea as I watched the few, random cars pass by from the window. There is no honking. The air feels lighter. To me, this Saturday morning is one made of all childhood dreams.

Our colour TV was switched on only for an hour once or twice a week. Sunday cartoons were a privilege, and that meant waking up minutes before the Jungle Book came on the telly. Warm, buttered toast followed by a tall glass of Bournvita milk followed. We watched Mowgli glide through our screens as we stared back open-mouthed in envy of his adventures. Ducktales and Talespin made for great laughs too. Soon enough, the end credits rolled, and we were rushed to a bath. Our hair was combed into neat braids or ponytails. And the plan for the day? Boredom. Okay, I take that back.

The plan for the day or Sunday was like any other day for us three-year-olds. Wake up, watch cartoons, eat a tasty brekkie, bathe, dress up and then do whatever the hell we liked! It could be drawing, scribbling, some colouring, playing house or simply doing nothing. Yeah. If I sat on the bed daydreaming, it wasn't questioned. I had no to-do list. I had no agenda. Chasing butterflies or hanging around for another snack were options too. Afternoons meant storytime and then nap. Evenings were idyllic; cycling about the lane with no cars or bikes hurtling our way, playing catch-n-cook or running around in the park.

Again, no agenda. No plan. This was the way of life; having nothing to do, not boredom.

But that's the thing about nostalgia, isn't it? It is always more straightforward, better and peaceful in retrospect. It is that warm fuzzy feeling that we hang onto even after so many years only to reminiscence and find some solace in the current chaos of our lives.

Today, this nostalgia has partly become a reality thanks to the Coronavirus scare and lockdown. There are barely any cars on the road. Honking is almost unheard of if not for the occasion police siren. People have disappeared from the streets. I can breathe better as the pollution levels are down and it seems like a day right out of the old, boring early 90s. 

Today being a Saturday, for the first time in years, I did not have much to do. I could enjoy my balcony, observe the crows and sip my tea. I had no calls to rush to or any emails to write. A rare privilege. A month ago, had someone described such a situation – noiseless and devoid of people, I would have freaked out! I don't think I'd ever imagined it to be so severe or drastic. Ideally, in my day-to-day life, I couldn't bear to be without something to do, to be bored.

But today I had the privilege of doing nothing. I was bored but happy. My mind felt clearer and lighter. Being home was unusual, as was the privilege of boredom. 

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