In a few weeks, we’re finally going to be able to say we’ve survived ( or not ) the year since the coronavirus was first discovered in 2019.
I am — much to my surprise — looking forward to writings/art/ poetry etc., from people across the world, reflecting over their year. This is mainly because I’ve been waiting — no, actually dying — to talk about the pandemic in hindsight, as something that has passed and is almost over.
To clarify, I do not, at all, think that talking about the year in hindsight means I/we’ve survived it. The urge to talk about it in hindsight is mostly related to the sense of having lasted the initial shock of it and lived through a large part of it.
(I am a 100 per cent sure I was one of the millions of people who urgently searched the web for ‘how long do pandemics last’ and then told themselves: Two years, two years of my life, and then this will be over.)
So, yes, one of those two years are almost over. Did I survive the year though? I don’t know.
The picture above is my desk, the corner, in my bedroom, where I spent most of 2020, lucky to be working-from-home, while I continued to be bombarded with news of hunger, political turmoil, job loss, sickness and of course, death.
Before the pandemic hit my life, this desk wasn’t as colourful or even important to me. It was an almost empty space, used occasionally, when I chose to work-from-home.
— — —
In March 2020, I was going to move to another country, with a job and a ‘new life’ — but more importantly — an annual Tulip Festival waiting for me on the other side. In March, this desk was an empty space, barring a big brown poster covered in post-its with to-dos reminding me of pre-departure arrangements I had to make, payments and bookings I had to close and a short list of things I was really looking forward to doing in a new country.
I no longer remember this short list from the small corner of that brown poster. I guess my memory has done me that mercy of letting go of things that are too painful to recall.
This looking forward to is what the pandemic took from me. By May, it was clear that I was not going to be able to leave the country anytime soon and that, in fact, my visa was going to expire in a few weeks.
When this realisation — that I am not leaving this house, this corner of the world any time soon — set in, I woke up one morning, tore off the sheet stuck clumsily with double-tape ( leaving marks I’ll surely have to pay the landlord for) and cut it into a 1000 pieces. Of course, I imagined this dramatic outburst to give me some relief and of course it did none of that. And of course, I was also stuck with clearing up the painful mess of those 1000 pieces of paper strewn all over my bedroom.
What does one do when it feels like there is nothing left to look forward to? Even worse — what does one do when one knows, fully well, how much more worse this time could have been for them and that, in fact, they are lucky and extremely privileged to be living through this nightmarish time in their safe little corner of the world? And that this pain of not having something to look forward to is the most privileged kind of pain simply because one is not struggling for their next meal?
I didn’t have answers back in March and the last 8–9 months have not made me any wiser.
But I do know that I have stopped processing my time and days. I move from one activity to another, one distraction to another, living a strange version of myself. A version, I think, can last this better than I can.
This write-up is also one of the many activities and distractions that take up my days. And I continue to live this strange — different — version of myself while I wait to experience that pleasure and privilege of hindsight.