It started with socialising with new friends, when conversation would revolve around activism, politics and the sorry state of human rights in India. One day though, instead of being welcomed by raucous laughter, I was surprisingly greeted by the tune of a piano. Stacked against the staircase with a sheet on it till now, the grand instrument that had now been uncovered to my delight.

Suddenly, a corner of the home that had been ignored so far lit up for me. My friend sat on the stool playing song after song and I listened in awe. He played the songs I requested and I diligently learnt the chords. As soon as he got up, I would sit and practise them. When I keep getting a note wrong, he would take a break from the conversation in the adjacent room and show me which keys were to be played.

As I sat on the stool and played these songs, all the chatter from next room would be drowned out. For a few hours, I felt some respite from the exhaustion and sadness that the pandemic had brought. I could shrug off the heaviness. It was a temporary but soulful refuge from reality.

Out of the blue, a friend who had accompanied me on these piano evenings decided to surprise me with a stunning keyboard. Since then, I’ve turned to the instrument on good and bad days. For now, I’m learning from friends and online so I can keep drowning out the noise and feel happy at will.

Read all the articles in the Comfort zone series here.