I got married on February 8th in Jaipur this year and I had a fever two days before the wedding, so everyone thought it was COVID-19. It was a bad time, but our wedding was what we always wanted — intimate with close family and friends, so I was happy. We even paid for the wedding ourselves, so we wanted to save some more and go for the honeymoon in July.
We came back to Delhi and stayed with my in-laws for a week. Then shit hit the fan. First, we came to know some foreigners who had come to Jaipur had been diagnosed with COVID-19. So everyone just self-quarantined. Then all this new information about lockdowns started coming in, that you can’t go out, more than four people shouldn’t meet and then that events can’t happen, so I started getting stressed.
I run an events business, where we do curated sustainable fashion brand pop-ups. It was an all-time high in January and I had planned to get right back to work in March after my marriage. We pay our venues upfront and gradually start booking the brands as we’ve been doing this for three years and have good relationships with them. We realized by then that this situation will go on for a long time.
First, we cancelled our March event in Jaipur and then we delayed payments for the upcoming events. Finally, after the lockdowns were made official, we had to cancel events for the whole year, as we have no timeline for when everything would come back to normal. So we pivoted to bringing the brands online to our website and selling directly to customers but that too has been difficult because of problems with delivering goods. And after exhausting my Instagram audience organically, finding new customers isn’t easy. But at least some money started coming into the bank.
I’m trying to adjust to my business changing so rapidly, and my new life at home. I’m paying rent for the first time in my life. We took a three bedroom home because initially we were fine monetarily. Now I just have so many more fixed costs. I didn’t even have time to buy any furniture, so we got lucky that our parents provided us with some. We just have one air conditioner in our bedroom, so we’ve put our only table there too. We work, eat and sleep in that one room.
More importantly, I don’t know how to cook and neither does my husband. Now YouTube is on 24 hours in the house. I still don’t know how to cook rotis, but have gotten good at curries, so we’ve been having rice with different curries for two months. And yes, I know other people have it worse than me, but we can only overcome what is in front of us.
We’re also not excited about being newlyweds despite dating for over two years. We can’t go out, we can’t dress up. We can’t meet friends. An important thing you do after marriage is make new relationships with your in-laws, have these family dinners, where they give you money also. Now who will call us? We’re old news.
All throughout the day things like cooking, cleaning, buying groceries or paying bills keep coming up.
It’s been boring emotionally as well. We’ve been inside the house since the first day and we can’t miss each other or be really happy after seeing someone wait for you after work. Our honeymoon, if it ever comes, will be going to a bar in South Delhi. It’s like I’m still at home but just with this another person and an insurmountable amount of work.
And I’m grappling with all this household work for the first time in my life. I’m mopping and cleaning this giant house three times a day. My husband is helpful, so he does the dishes. I’ve also started respecting my parents now for doing all these things. I hope I can be a parent who is this supportive one day.
I had to let go of all four people working for me. One of them is delivering a baby this month, and I couldn’t even keep her. Things are really difficult. My bank balance went to zero. I’m running a household and setting up this e-commerce business in a time when no one wants to spend any money.
It’s not like before, when I could focus solely on my work. At home, so many things are just taken care of and now I can’t wake up and just go to work. All throughout the day things like cooking, cleaning, buying groceries or paying bills keep coming up.
I’m an optimistic person though, and I think we’ll power through this. I want the new website to work so I can hire my employees back and pay them more than I was before. There was just one day early on when I broke down crying in my balcony, about my business, all the new work and even wondering if we’d messed up completely in renting this home. But I had to just get up, because we had to go buy groceries and if I didn’t, we wouldn’t have anything to eat. We got ice cream and came back to our kitchen and my husband told me to be like a spring. That the more I’ve been pushed down, the higher I can bounce back. I don’t have any choice.
Devyani Kapoor is an entrepreneur based in New Delhi. As told to Parthshri Arora.