I have to say, even in my most paranoid moments, living through a global pandemic was not on my Bingo card. I am not one to get easily frazzled, but this has come close to completely unravelling me multiple times.
At the beginning of 2020, I was just adjusting to a new home, my husband to a new office, and our son to a new school. We were dealing with health issues in the extended family, and we had to cancel a few plans. It wasn’t a chirpy start to the year.
When reports of a novel virus came pouring in, I was concerned but only from afar. We stopped reading newspapers or watching the news on TV a few years ago, preferring to quickly catch up on events online. Once the virus started spreading, we were cautioned but not anxious.
The sudden lockdown in India took everyone by surprise. The weeks that followed were heartbreaking because of the mishandling of it. News from other parts of the world was even more distressing.
Every day I counted my blessings. I, along with my family, was safe. We were all in our homes with people we loved, and we wanted for nothing. Boredom was very low on our list of priorities compared to what the world was going through.
Even though the general atmosphere was of paranoia everywhere, I was not scared because we didn’t know anyone personally affected. We were privileged enough to have the option to stay indoors for two whole months. My husband would step out once in two weeks for groceries, and we managed with what we got.
Once the lockdown restrictions eased, we continued to take precautions while stepping out, only when essential. There was a small park nearby, mostly empty, so we could spread our legs and go for a walk.
It was overwhelming to meet our parents in person. We didn’t meet any friends till much later in the year, and even then, just one at a time.
By December, we were all so ready for a fresh new year. How naive we were.
2021 started with a sigh of relief. Over 60, then over 45, year-olds started getting their vaccine shots. No one was in a hurry.
People started taking it easy with safety protocols. Unless specifically mentioned, masks were optional everywhere. It made me uncomfortable, but then I felt that the worst was behind us.
When the 2nd wave started in April, it just swept us all off our feet. I again counted my blessings for being in a safe space and for our healths. But this time around, it came attached with guilt, fear, and immense sadness.
There was nothing I could do looking at people literally begging for oxygen. Everyone I spoke with was affected in some way. Everyone was grieving. The feeling of utter helplessness almost broke me.
For my own sanity, I had to stop myself from checking on the news. Apart from a few messages checking up on friends and family, I avoided talking to them for fear of more bad news.
Since 2020, it has been an avalanche of distressing news from around the world. Anyone who is even slightly tuned in to the world around them would have been traumatised.
I found good advice from Hasan Minhaj, and I pass it on to you. Choose the cause you want to focus on the moment, and filter out the rest. Change them when you’re able to move on. Take sanity breaks. It is OK to not care about anything for a while. It doesn’t make you a bad person.
As we inch towards the end of the second year of the pandemic, I am grateful for the vaccinations. I am also still wary of the newer and deadlier variants of the virus and that my son is yet to get an approved vaccine.
I hope that 2022 doesn’t bring in a worse wave because, honestly, I don’t know how much more sadness humanity can handle.