It’s been a strange year for sure. Nothing to write home about, to put it mildly.
I have started a few times since yesterday to attempt to write a blog to commemorate this rite of passing, this flip of a page on the Gregorian calendar from the dreaded year of 2020 to the new year 2021.
Every time I start to write, I pen down things that we all already know, things that have been said, things that have been experienced, realised, learned. There is nothing more I can add to say it any better than what’s already out there.
Let me get those thoughts out of the way though. Like the top ten style of stories that circulate on the social networks these days, here’s my top ten thoughts about last year.
- Gratitude went to the top of the list as we saw near and dear ones around us experience challenges on a scale and magnitude that was unheard of. As many in the world still struggle for basic necessities, employment opportunities and the secure lifestyle before COVID laid waste to their life, everyone is counting the blessings we still have – however small.
- We spent more time staying in touch with friends and family than ever before. Across the seas and long distances that separated us, video calling apps became the lifeline that kept us afloat.
- Humanity found a new level of humility as an unseen menace calmly and calculatingly went about its business while all we could do was wash hands, wear masks and avoid social contact.
- A hug from a loved one became the most wanted item on our holiday wishlists this year.
- In defiance of basic social needs taken away from us, food blogs broke the internet with recipes for every craving that could be satisfied with basic ingredients at home. From homemade ladi pav to cakes with glucose biscuits – cooks all over the world strived hard to dish out unbridled creativity so their loved ones wouldn’t miss the weekend restaurant outings too much.
- Jugaad, that beautiful term that encompasses a plethora of wicked ideas that we come up with to reuse something for a purpose that it was never meant to serve, took on a whole new level of innovation. One particular video that stands out for me among several that made the rounds this year was of a humble housewife who found a way to clean greens and make them last longer in the fridge – using pillow covers and a washing machine!
- New heroes emerged from the ashes of destruction like phoenixes to the rescue. Teachers persisting in their efforts to keep the efforts to educate young minds, the veritable army of online delivery crew who ensured basic essentials reached us, the frontline healthcare professionals who literally put their lives on the line trying to save others. The list goes on.
- Picking up life skills was no longer optional. All over the world, we learnt to cook, clean, run a house on a budget. In traditional families, men began to gain a better understanding of what it took to run a house and things taken for granted earlier began to be perceived with newfound respect.
- Empathy and kindness replaced anything else as the primary emotion from where people began an interaction. With so much going wrong, it was safe to assume anyone we were speaking to in relation to work or even personally was going through something in their life. Kindness and empathy became second nature by the end of the year for most of us.
- As we enter a new year there is a huge surge of hope for a more normal world. While we are settled somewhat in the new normal, there is nothing wrong with us craving for a walk in the park, with the freedom to breathe in the fresh air without a mask in between us and nature. This hope is brought about with the news of the vaccines ready for administering to all of us.
There. I’ve finally managed to compress an entire year into a ten point bullet list.
A lot remains unsaid on the unpleasantness, uncertainty and negativity some of us have had to endure. Men and women in abusive relationships have had no respite from their abuser as the lockdown turned into a 24/7 period of torture and tested their patience and strength to the limit. Work/life balance has never been as out of balance as it is today with many in work from home mode putting in hours that we didn’t know existed. For people at high risk of contracting the infection, it has been months more of solitude, lack of human touch and staying cooped up in the four walls of their home. Depression, despair, and other extreme forms of mental stress rear their ugly head more often than ever. The isolated nature of the disease made it impossible for us to support our loved ones the way we usually would if they fell sick. Many of us lost loved ones to the infection, leaving a hole in our lives and a deep sorrow at the sudden and unexpected turn of events.
It’s all too much, in too little a time for anyone to go through and cope. There isn’t much we can do except be kind to each other, stay safe for our sake and for the sake of those around us. It is the ultimate test of humanity coming together while staying apart.
And when we pass the test… this too shall pass.