2020 was a difficult year in many ways. But when I look back in retrospect, I see it as a year of learning.
It was the year I learnt I could live away from the city. It was the year I learnt to adapt. It was the year I learnt to let go. But most importantly, it was the year I learnt to incorporate positive changes into my life that led me to become a happier being.
I can’t specifically say what spurred these changes. Maybe because I was in isolation for so long that it gave me an un-interrupted introspective view of my own life. Or maybe because when so much bad happens in the world that it gives you perspective on the important things, that the unnecessary burdens just melt away. OR maybe I was just tired with the monotony of my own existence – that change was inevitable. I don’t know.
When the lockdown period began, I noticed that social media was flooded with posts about ‘staying positive’and‘being productive’ while staying at home. From a word here, to a post there – before I knew it – this concept of ‘positivity and productivity during a pandemic‘ snowballed into entire pages, campaigns and challenges! It spread through Instagram and Facebook like wildfire.
When I saw this, my first thought was: sure, this approach could lead to a temporary spike in motivation and optimism, but in other words – it could also be a distraction from allowing us to completely acknowledge and process how immensely challenging this period truly is. And on the days that we potentially struggle to cope with these ‘socially acceptable’ methods, we can end up feeling either guilt or shame – if not both.
I woke up one day to a WhatsApp video sent by my dad about a sighting of Hornbills in Altamount Road. I don’t remember last when I jumped out of bed with such rapid enthusiasm to watch a video. But when I did play it, my first thought was HORNBILLS IN THE CITY? Could this be real??!
When I finished watching the video – the realization then sunk in, I had been in a self imposed quarantine for nearly 23 days; 30 days counting today. And the fact that those hornbills could stray into the city so freely was – in a way – a reminder, nay, a result of it: this new way of living; humans retreating into the indoors.
It was first wonderful and then disastrous. (Say that with a CAPITAL ‘D’.)
I’ve never really been distinctively shy of my dark circles, but come September end – when my insomnia was at its peak – I found it hard to dismiss the idea that I had started to – as my mother put it – ‘mildly resemble a raccoon’.
I had the face bone structure for it (not kidding), and the fact that a large part of my wardrobe is dominated by black, only happened to reinforce my mother’s above-mentioned hypothesis of my rapidly developing appearance.
I turned 24 on a Friday of the previous week, and for the weekend that followed it, I found myself celebrating with friends, feasting on basil dumplings, marveling at the deliciousness of my pizza, posing before my camera and laughing at every joke I heard.