What do you do, to live?


Death makes a person cold. Not the one who died, but some of those left behind. There’s a stone coldness in few people that is brought out to striking daylights with the death of a loved one. They struggle to cope, to accept the absence of the person closest to them. In this constant endeavour to ‘return’ to normal life, they lose any warmth left in their character. It depends a lot on the definition of ‘normal life.’ It’s quite normal that we would grieve a loss and the life we carry on after a loved one’s death, is normal in its own way. A ‘new normal’ that lets you accept facts gradually and tweak living accordingly. 

I have been in the realisation of something for quite a while now and it deepened slowly in the last four months of my stay in Calcutta. Most people around me are living in their own way, within the cocoon of a comfort zone. It is often the eat-work-sleep-repeat routine that burns them out near the end of their work life. The ennui that a routine creates is very stifling to me. If I were to just eat-work-sleep-repeat, I’d burn out much sooner than my retirement age. I believe that every person should be able to do something in their daily routine to feed their creative self. Now, you might disagree and debate, that in this already distressing scenario, what is the role of art? 

If you just give it a passing thought – art is not exclusive to galleries or theatres or concerts. A bit of art is present in all our daily lives to push us through in anticipation of tomorrow. And it need just be something tangible, to show off the creative angle of your persona. It could even be a thought, a few kind words to a stranger or something that you might find insignificant. I know someone who places a bowl of water in their balcony everyday in summer for birds. It gives them immense satisfaction to wake up listening to a dulcet conference of birds in their balcony, around the water. When I’m in Brussels, I go for long walks in the evenings, often not regimentally in a park but aimlessly in the quiet streets. If the weather is pleasant, I sit somewhere and soak in the sun, mostly in winters. On days that I feel dejected, I stop somewhere in the track and stare at the Art Nouveau/Art Deco houses. I believe I have even spoken to the stone gargoyles and motifs on them, just asking how they have been through the past century. This isn’t ‘art’, no, I wouldn’t call it that. But it is a way to do something different than my daily drill. Sometimes, I’d click a photo on my mobile and it has thus remained as a warm piece of memory, to be thawed and savoured on absolutely downcast days. 

I’m grateful to my parents for having inculcated the idea of a hobby in my early years. I think it was part of the Bengali culture, at least till half a century ago, to introduce children into some form of hobby that would sustain them forever. It was looked upon as something that would save your life from the clutches of a regimen. I was encouraged to read, listen to music and watch movies. I began writing much later and was interested in embroidery watching Ma and my paternal aunts. I’ve been living on and off it for years, neglecting embroidery while being immersed in ‘life.’ It took a pandemic to instil the habit of stitching for at least half an hour every day as a mode of creating something by forming colours and patterns on fabric. I looked forward to that time in the evening or late afternoon post work when I’d be able to pick up on an unfinished part of the pattern and progress bit by bit. Once a pattern was complete, it would bring unprecedented joy and fulfilment. I’d suggest you pick up a hobby, it might be anything, as long as you look forward to it post work and household chores. 

I did this satin stitch leaf yesterday on a used, washed fabric mask using Ma’s leftover shaded floss. It’s not perfect and I’m not very happy with the precision, but it is something. I did this bit that made me feel a little more alive and handy. What do you do, to live? I’d love to know, share in the comments. 

This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.

8 thoughts on “What do you do, to live?

  1. Before lock down, I used to play my favorite sport Table Tennis, practised almost daily. It stopped since last year due to Covid. I started reading books at a very early age in school, and it has stayed with me since. I am an avid music listener, so that takes up my ‘me time’ quite substantially. I also love watching movies, tv series, my blogging. Lately I am taking much interest in website designing, so that is keeping me engaged much these days. Yes, it’s always better to do something out of the mundane routine, to stimulate the senses, to keep one engaged and busy from the negativities around.

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  2. I love to see art in any form. I enjoy seeing street art in the US – huge murals and graffiti if your care to look. In India, movie posters used to provide art. But like you say having some hobby that allows you to be creative is a blessing! I used to do embroidery and it is satisfying to see your work completed! Now Netflix and blogging are my prime hobbies!

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  3. Lovely post, Priyanka… it speaks my heart.I definitely think one should inculcate some kind of hobby, that will give one the sense of ‘living’, and more importantly, that hobby should ideally not turn into a profession. There should be some work in life that should be done just like that…just for the sake of the happiness one feels after completing the work.

    For me… any sort of creative activity with things colourful-embroidery floss, colours, colourful papers — help me get out of anxiety and sadness that invades life too often nowadays. Writing about good things/good memories also have the same effect.

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