The figure ′ 2020′. Could it get any more lyrical, any more symmetrical and any more aesthetic? As the new dawn on 2020 brightened the horizons beyond the inky blue heavens, humankind arose out of their early-morning slumber in reprieve of the throes of harsh reality clutching at their bloodied fates and breasts. It was conceived of as a harbinger of good luck!
And yet, the little inconspicuous pieces of news that hitherto failed to make headlines, suddenly bared their ghastly teeth, tearing away the picture of hope into innumerable shreds of tattered and disjointed ambitions and dreams.
Thus ended the epiphany of another great year of patting ourselves on our backs, and keeping repeating that there still was time to indulge, overindulge, in fact, with luxury splurges, on yet another mink coat, another Hermes bag, or another yacht cruise on the Bosphorus.
For me though, the year began with a generous smattering of spiritualism, having attended a long-awaited session, courtesy, ‘Swami Vivekanananda Vani Prachar Samity’, Chicago. The date was 02.02.2020, another numerologically significant palindrome, which also totalled to an eight, indicating a full closure numerologically. There were plans of travelling around the world, publishing my first novel, meeting my parents after nearly a year, taking my son places, including to the zoo, and creating an author account on FB, being more active on Insta and Twitter.
It was a long ‘to-do’ list, where there were relentless and unpunctuated chains of events planned.
Amid all those, there were unsettled scores, unspoken apologies, disrepaired housework, that had remained wanting attention for a very long time, and a long list of friends who’d appear in my dreams periodically and persistently. All those things had taken a sabbatical from my list of priorities, having been pushed down and further down, replaced with other important things.
And then, came the Pandemic, world-wide panic and forced lockdown. No longer required to go to work regularly, no longer planning my budget for the next international travel, no more to-do lists coming to fruition, life came to a stand-still. Or apparently so, at first glance. But all the left-over housework began coming to fruition, all torn buttons got sewn, all remaining edits of the manuscript gradually done, even the book getting published at last, after six years of ponderance and procrastination. Communication and bonding with my son became a reality, relationship with in-laws improved, at least, opened up after nearly ten years of staying together. The household reclaimed some of its lost sheen, and there was a sudden surge of free-time to exercise, meditate and eat healthy.
A month into the lockdown, I began searching frantically for a long-lost friend, who’d once proposed to me, asking to be his wife, and I’d laughed off this sudden revelation as a spat of infatuation. And then, he simply plugged hismelf out of all social circles, removing all contact with anyone who could be in touch with me. Somehow, it struck me that maybe all those nightmares about an unfulfilled childhood promise might have been a Freudian translation of vestiges of my own guilt. It wasn’t because I didn’t accept his proposal; it was rather because I’d never found time to look for him in the intervening period of ten years!
And then, all the extra time on my hands, sans the distractions of social media, resulted in a really judicious and honest desire to find him, which I did, much like a long-forgotten favourite teacher, an old aunt who celebrated her ninetieth birthday, a poor relative who’d asked me for a loan, and a local network of distribution of food packets to the under-privileged. I wondered how the same twenty-four hours gave me all the opportunity now, bereft of constant pressure to prove myself competent enough for the rat race I’d been running for years now.
Family dinners, phone conversations, opinions on social causes, and ruminations about doing what I do best; all the things suddenly gained back the lustre they had lost over a prolonged spate of overexpecting from myself.
Time has come to a point where I, like most other millennials, have lost the urge to portray myself as someone infallible, and insusceptible to human afflictions. It has started to feel like exposing one’s vulnerability to near and dear ones, is okay. To ask for help, and speak about one’s insecurities is fine enough, and to cry in front of friends is fair enough. Visiting parents suddenly feels like one of the most important things to do after the nightmare is over, but trying to listen to all those unsaid words over the long telephonic conversations, appears even more important. Physical presence can’t make up for mental absence, and vice-versa, but maybe, mental presence surpasses the importance of physical availability. Priority lists look like they’re to be torn down completely and be written down afresh. Spending time with friends, laughing and sharing jokes, conversing with one’s own body, eating healthy and re-visiting the notions of modernization... the list is endless.
1. Someone once said that difficult times bring out the best in people. I realise that’s because the mind is concentrated on trying to eradicate the cause of difficulty, without meandering to more lucrative and glitzy avenues.
2. The human attributes of love, faith, generosity and hope have been emphasized for so long. But it was only during this period that I realized even if the candles of love, faith and generosity are extinguished by wisps of hatred, disillusionment and selfishness, keep stoking the fire of hope. It can re-light the other three.
3. Scriptures say that of all the noble virtues, patience is the greatest. The unending period of contemplation has taught me to rely on the power of time. This impossible undulation on the fabric of space-time continuum is also bound to pass. All we need is to be patient and to listen to our inner silence.
It’s mid-July, and we’re already midway through the year 2020, and we still don’t know much about the little RNA tweak, and the cytokine storms that brought upon us this period of idyll. What we do know is that humanity will have to find it’s way amid the quagmire of problems. Running a race was always our choice, but running in this hurdle race is our compulsion. Emerging a winner or a loser, would again be our choice, laced with luck. If we don’t have a hand in the latter factor, let’s at least score a hundred for our choice.
2021 would be ushering humankind into a new realm of understanding, that would compel us to make the choice between hope and despair, between quick-results and patience. It would also expect us, as a sentient species to be more responsible about our options, and be more observant of our history. The year could lead us to a new way of life, where even the vainest of us could finally come to terms with the common uncertainty of our own mortality. Consumerism could be modified to a degree where we could begin by reiterating about our true place in the complex ecological chain.
2021 would be the dawn of A NEW AGE OF MINDFULNESS, REFLECTION, INTROSPECTION, HUMILITY, BENEVOLENCE AND KINDNESS, not because we embrace these out of choice, but because all other choices have been snatched out of our hands.
2021 would be the harbinger of a new chapter in the annals of humankind’s history.