about 6 months ago
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Vinita is worried. She and her 6-year old daughter have just undergone a Covid test; they will get the results tomorrow. Her husband is already positive and quarantined in their 1BHK home; he will now live in the bedroom for the next 14 days while Vinita and their daughter in the living room and small kitchen. The risk remains high as they all share the same toilet-bathroom.

For her, the nightmare which had begun last year has simply not ended. In the ‘first wave’ in June’20, she, her mother, father and maid – all tested positive and she lost her father, the light of her life. Today, when she see’s the various reports on “one year anniversary of the lockdown” she feels so disconnected; for her, and many like her, everything has changed and yet so much remains unchanged.

The loss of a family member, for the state and the country might be just a statistical figure but for the one who has lost, its irreplaceable, a pain and void which will remain forever. And this fear, the sense of anxiety, the insecurity over one’s health, the children’s safety, the income-flow, job security, all the things we took for granted in life is now so precious; living life itself seems like a miracle today. So, looking back and calling it an “anniversary” at this juncture, when the pandemic is very much still there, more virulent than last year, is pretty naïve.

The pandemic has shown us what miracles a human mind can create – when last year, at this time, we had nothing to save us from the virus, in such a short span of time, some great minds created vaccines, saving mankind and giving us all a sense of hope. The big change which we see – children when they are asked the same-old, inane question, “what do you want to become when you grow up?” now say without a blink, “a doctor.” One doesn’t know how many will really follow this ‘call’ but all those of us who have survived, will never take any medicine, any doctor for granted.

The most striking image of last year was that of a mother pulling her child, sleeping on the suitcase, while she trudged her long way home. The migrant’s story, like the sludge which comes up, has raised such a huge stink that we are still reeling under it. The scores of nameless and faceless people – the driver, gardener, cleaner, sweeper, cook, vegetable vendor, the enthusiastic helper at the corner grocery shop – all finally look human beings like us. Their not being there, threw our so-called ‘settled’ life into a state of complete chaos. Maybe the pandemic taught us one important lesson – treat everyone around you with respect, recognize them as humans, exactly like us.

Many say that the pandemic has taught us all to respect Mother Nature, cut down on our extravagances, lead a more simple if not austere life. Well, some of us might have learnt this but for the majority, life goes on as usual. Weddings are back to being celebrated with all pomp and splendour; in fact more so because many are feeling so ‘deprived’ after last year. Huge weddings are once again being planned towards the end of the year as by then, we all hope that the pandemic would have truly been shown the door.

The pandemic has and is putting at centerstage the need we all have within us for that human contact, the hugs and laughs. Most of us are currently just living, there is really no difference between one day and the other. But we have learnt to find joy in this routine, feeling happy that we were alive and healthy for one more day. And yes, we have also learnt that we can probably live without our friends and extended family but we surely cannot live without our mobile phones, Amazon and Netflix!

Well, its not yet over so let’s not really ‘celebrate’ any anniversary yet. The markets, the GDP, the politicians, the news debates – everything will be there but we need to stay alive to see more of these. So, keep safe, stay home as much as possible and if cannot, wear a mask and stay away from people!

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