Friday, August 14, 2020

Aarti Bhatt: A student's amazing lockdown story


Aarti Bhatt

Earlier, life meant freedom. The freedom to do whatever one wanted, explore new places, meet new people, the freedom to live without restrictions. 
One could never have thought of a single moment where they had to sit and spend a significant part of their lives enclosed, trapped, asphyxiated, looking at the same ceiling, the same walls, the same doors; feeling like a song played on repeat, over and over again.

As an ordinary CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) student, I had a lot of plans after taking my board examinations.  The plans being- volunteering at non-profit organizations, devoting a major chunk of my time to work with animals in need, given the fact that I love animals dearly, and want to put in my best effort in order to alleviate their sufferings, joining my favorite place- ‘MANZIL’, (which I had to leave because of my board examinations), travelling to various locations, enrolling in sports like swimming, concentrating more on my hobbies, etc.

Just when I thought everything was perfect, there came this villain called “COVID-19”. It is a known fact that nothing in life comes easy, and there are always two sides to a coin. Similarly, my smooth road of life just got topsy-turvy. A nation-wide lockdown took place and I was devastated.  Still trying to keep myself calm, I thought that it was a short phase and soon everything would be okay.

Days passed, and the lockdown kept on getting extended. I started losing hope,  everything seemed to be blurry in front of my eyes, I was overwhelmed. Noticing the startling rise in COVID-19 cases every passing day, a tide of negativity seemed to rush past me.

Feeling lonely and extremely melancholic , I thought of reminiscing my most cherished memories. Thinking about all those happy times, I realized how different things would have been, had the lockdown never occurred. I started looking at all the plans I had made, and all the work left for me to complete had the lockdown not taken place. Contemplating over all my plans, it dawned upon me that I hadn’t devoted even a minute to myself. Delving deeper into it, I realized that all these years I had kept myself so busy with other things that I had forgotten to spend time with myself.

Thinking of the bigger picture, I started realizing that the lockdown made me irritable and stressed out, pretty much all the time. What I needed was to spend time with myself, comprehend my own needs, my likes and dislikes.

That is how I embraced the aforementioned villain, and befriended this lockdown.  I started being alone to listen to what my heart really wanted me to do; I started spending time with my parents and cooking with my brother. I even joined ‘MANZIL’ again, teaching kids as well as adults there, attending sessions on mental health, cultural exchange, etc. This really helped me understand what interested me and in turn, it made me understand myself much more clearly. I knew exactly what I wanted; I had my priorities straight, as a wave of enthusiasm rushed through me.

All the things mentioned above made my bond with myself stronger than ever. I could now understand what exactly made me happy. ‘MANZIL’ was the icing on my cake of life, which completely transformed the meaning of ‘lockdown’ for me. Taking classes at ‘MANZIL’ was surreal. The love and care I receive from the students there literally makes my day. Teaching them and talking to them makes my life meaningful, it brings a feeling of self-satisfaction which is beyond words.

Simultaneously, watching and listening to Ravi Bhaiya’s (co-founder of ‘MANZIL’) interviews on Instagram or YouTube fills me with a new energy. It instils hope and joy in my heart. His speeches where he tells us not to listen to the words but to listen through the words, inspire me every single time.

I feel really lucky to work at a place like ‘MANZIL’, and am extremely glad to be a part of it.

Written By Aarti Bhatt, 17, Manzil student and teacher
Edited / Supported by Vanya Jalan, Manzil Volunteer

Aarti has just completed her Class 12th examinations with 89% grade. She is learning advanced level English, and teaches English in junior classes. She loves to spend her free time doodling, cooking and spending time with nature. She likes to make her loved ones laugh.


  1. Very well written Aarti. Viktor Frankl wrote in his book "Man's Search for Meaning," essentially, that we cannot necessarily control what happens to us, but we can control how we choose to respond. Thanks for the inspiration. Be well, Sadanand

    1. I'm so happy that the place where I learn education that's Manzil and the people who teaches me are so lovely and friendly.
      Being a friend of Aaru ( Aarti Bhatt ) I comprehend that don't stop yourself in one place and don't think when the situations will be in control then we learn or start to do any work.
      She's a everyday learner and I appreciate her. I hope her upcoming future after corona is over will be beautiful and brighter!!!

    2. Thank you so much sadanand ji for your valuable response, i m glad that you found it useful.

  2. Your story inspired me alot and your nature of loving animals is so nice... Nd your nature is also very nice coz I know you from a very long time you are such a nice personality.. God bless you my mate..Aarti the great��

  3. Such an inspiring & uplifting story, Arti & you have penned it down so beautifully. Most of us can relate to what you were going through these challenging times & it was interesting to learn what helped you not only get over it but also move ahead in life. Thank you so much for sharing it with us...keep up the amazing work, kudos! 🌿😀