She just wanted somebody to tell her what Zoom was.
But she was afraid to ask. Because she very well knew what the answer would be. Those annoyed looks when she enters their rooms and disturbs their important work meetings or video games. She doesn’t really want to disturb them. Really. But she just wants this one thing. Just someone to tell her what Zoom is.
It is as if her whole existence depends on it. It is the one thing she needs to do. For herself.
Doing something for your own self. What an alien concept for her! Not alien for her husband or kids though. Those three do all sorts of things for themselves.
Go on trips with their friends. Have video calls on Friday nights with food that they order without telling her before she cooks for them in the sweltering heat.
But she doesn’t complain. Ever. She knows they need time with their friends. She understands their misery. They have been stuck at home for over a year now.
That’s the one word those three use a lot.
What do they mean stuck in the house? She has been in this house for 28 years now. How has she never felt stuck? But then again, she told herself, that she has nowhere else to go, no important people to meet, no business to take care of, like her family does.
Zoom. Yes, something that lady told about opening a video onZoom.
Should she bother her husband? He seems very frustrated. He has seemed very frustrated for the past decade.
Her daughter, then? She will probably call her a fool for not knowing what Zoom is. Which is not a lie, actually.
She does feel like a fool. At the dinner table. When the three discuss all sorts of interesting topics. Politics and football and share market and global warming and women empowerment.
Nobody cares about her paneer butter masala. But she gives them a second helping anyway. Will make their bones stronger, she tells herself.
They need all the strength and nutrition after all. Once the pandemic is over they will leave this house again. Return to their real lives, as they call it.
She will still get to hear from them once a day, or perhaps once in two days. But it isn’t really their fault. They have a real life. Real jobs. A real set of friends. Real birthday parties and celebrations and dinners.
Dinner. Zoom. Yes.
She needs to find out. She knocks on her son’s door. No reply. Another knock. No reply. She peers in. He is shouting at the tv screen while playing a game. Must be talking to his friends in those headphones. She wanders what headphones feel like. Maybe she’ll buy one someday? Stupid. How stupid of her! What would she even use them for?
She shuts back the door, softly, so as to not disturb his important game.
She opens her daughter’s door. She glares at her and signals her to close the door. Presses a button angrily on her laptop and hisses, why do you have to disturb me when I am at meetings? Don’t you understand a simple thing? Leave!
She does. She feels bad about disturbing her during a meeting. She feels she should have apologised. Maybe over dinner.
Husbands says she has no business knowing what Zoom is. It is for people who have jobs and meetings to attend. Neither of which she has. Also, could she make tea for him? He is stressed about this new project.
Milk. Water. Sugar. Tea leaves. Ginger. Flame.
She looks into the saucepan. Sees the water bubbling. She keeps staring. Bubbles. Anger. Despair. Bubbles. Hopelessness. Helplessness. Uselessness.
How will she join the Zoom class? How will she learn those recipes she thought she would make for her family, on her birthday tomorrow?
Bubbles. Rage. Grief.
Stuck. She feels stuck in this life that doesn’t even feel like her own.