No one teaches you how to live through a watershed year. It comes without notice, flips the life that was and you are sitting in the middle of it and wondering what the hell just happened. 2020 – A year that started like any other year. With fireworks and new year resolutions. I remember sitting with loved ones in Goa, staring at a lit up sky at midnight and thinking this year is going to be hard. Not because I knew about Covid, but just because of all the things that were lined up on the personal front. Part nervous and part excited about the year, I was packing up to go back to San Francisco after a month long break at home. Little did I know that coming home will become an improbable ask very soon.
January came, and with it came my last trip to meet dear ones. Between December and January, I probably met everyone I love. And thank god for that! Murmurs of a virus in China had started coming in the news more often than not. As is true for all macro news, I was not rattled because it had not hit home yet. Or so I thought. By February, we were working from home and by March it was official. The world was in a lockdown, and it was surreal. In a very scary and eerie way.
I did the only logical thing I could think of. Packed my bags and drove to LA. Being with family felt necessary. And it was. Kooby does not get pandemics or catastrophes. I realize that his world is a good place to be right now. A world of unadulterated affection and a belief that nothing wrong can happen, because he is around his favorite set of people. Maybe this year deserves that lens. Because in a world where we think we can control everything including our lives and routines, this year has reminded us that nothing is in our control. Except the people we choose to be in a time of crisis.
It is close to end of July now. The pandemic is still raging, especially in US, thanks to a President who doesn’t know his a** from his mouth. The world will never be the same again. Sitting outside has become a luxury. Not wearing a mask outside has become asinine. As of today, 16 million people have tested positive for Covid and 650,000 people have died. And there is no vaccine or cure in sight yet. I am writing this while sitting in an outdoor patio at a coffee shop. It almost looks like just another day from last summer, yet there is nothing similar about it. Everyone is bearing the brunt of this pandemic in big and small ways. Worrying has become a constant. The family we can’t visit, the kids we can’t send to school or outside to play, the news of someone known getting Covid and the complete helplessness in terms of dealing with it. This sunny day has an undercurrent of chill creeping into my bones, as I think through what I lost this year. I am packing up my San Francisco apartment this week. Packing up letters and memories in boxes. Swinging between I can’t believe this is over versus this seems like the right thing to do. It is amazing how bricks and walls can hold so many memories of the people who walked within them.
Since this is a post for posterity, I shouldn’t end it on such a somber note. So what if it is a gloomy year. Amidst all the shit that is going on right now, this year also reminded me the importance of love. Coco came to our world during peak pandemic, in May. Our collective hearts wept for joy. He came out looking worried, and rightly so. The moment I held him and the moment I held Kubo for the first time will remain as moments of realisation, that unconditional, absolute love is the only cure for all malaise, including a year like this one. In their bright eyes and helpless laughter, I see the possibility of a happier tomorrow. It feels like even this shall pass. In their hugs and kisses, the heart warms up bit by bit.
Thanks to this year, my reading has gone up. And as books often do, they brought in perspective and an ability to get lost in someone else’s stories. The two sentences that made a mark were –
“She tried to explain it to me afterwards, to tell me that the things in it had really happened, but to me it was only a story. I thought someone had made it up. I suppose all children think that, about any history before their own. If it’s only a story, it becomes less frightening.”The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
“It’s the first time I see that we have a choice: to pay attention to what we’ve lost or to pay attention to what we still have.”The Choice, Edith Eger
Dear 2020, kindly whizz by. Enough already.
A regular human stuck in an unreal year.