It is a rainy Monday morning in Calcutta. The will to work is really poor. It has been more than two months of being holed up in Dada’s apartment, as India’s 2.0 version of Covid rages on. Isolation has blended weekdays into weekends, and my view of the world is through a balcony which faces a small walking space. I sip on coffee as I watch people getting in their steps. I get my steps in too, by circling this small living space. Any curious onlookers would have given up by now, on my sanity and their boredom. We have normalized everything by now. The isolation, the inability to meet our loved ones, the lack of life that was. Everything, except death of a loved one. Everything, except maybe facing our own mortality. Fear has found a place in our collective hearts. And we are sanitizing our way through every human contact.
That’s 2021. I am sitting in the middle of it, looking at monsoon and everything grey that comes with it. Yet, my heart feels happy. And hopeful. It has been six months in India. The decision to move here happened overnight. It happened after I came for a visit. I came with one bag of quintessential pandemic clothing – pajamas and sweatshirts. And stayed. Ma Baba had to learn how to live with their adult kid. I had to learn to live with my (sometimes) child-like parents. And it was everything it needed to be. For once, none of us was in a rush to leave. The morning tea became our space of calm. Grief over Kaku’s loss sifted through us every other day. Yet, we learned to smile. We made plans. Boudi, yet again, taught us how to love unconditionally. I often wonder how did we get so lucky. How did we find someone like her? Someone whose rock-like support made this year probably one of the best I have had so far. She is my favourite version of a superhero – a superhuman heart and the ability to love ferociously. I will never quite understand how she does all that she does, but I know that when she says it will be okay, everything has a habit of falling in place.
And touchwood, everything does feel much more than okay. We spent a month in Calcutta and a month in Goa. Love made its presence felt, when I least expected it. We grew closer as a family. Ma Baba proved yet again, that their ability to love their kids transcends all bias and reservations. We laughed, we cried, we drove, we ate. 2021 taught us all to be a family. We fought too. Yelled at each other and walked away in sheer frustration. Yet, all of us came back to each other. We welcomed the new with open arms. My birthday, this year, will remain one of my most memorable ones. There was food and an incredible amount of warmth. We laughed till our stomachs ached, made alarming number of plans and drank till we had to shut down the party (and take it to an after party). Obviously, Baba was bringing the house down single-handedly. A laugh riot was emanating from every corner and my very dependable pseudo-bouncers were NOT bringing the house in order. If you were me standing in that giant living room in Goa, you would know how incredible all of it was. Seeing everyone I loved having a baller time. How did we get here in few years? How is being me not scary anymore?
Maybe love is the only answer for all of it. There is no rational explanation to it. In the middle of a Covid shit-storm, my days remain full of warmth. We drink and sing and dance and wave to the walkers getting in their steps. We think of a life ahead, when we are free to go out. We think of faraway places and all the food we want to eat. We laugh at really poor jokes and wonder how inappropriate we have become for the world outside this apartment. We miss the ones we can’t meet. Yet, we remain amazed at the life that we have right now. The sheer chance of meeting someone who makes your life whole.
Thank you 2021. You have been a gruelling and heart wrenching year. Yet, you have been the best kind of year.
Happy Pride Month y’all! 🙂
P.S – Half way through vaccination. Fingers crossed, that it gets better.