The views expressed in this article are the author’s and are not necessarily the views of the partners.
It is now Day 181 of the pandemic. I have been reminiscing the memories of the first three months of this year. I’ve been remembering the New Year’s Eve Party; the company, the toasts, the declaration of resolutions – the optimism.
I remember a time of group studies and extra-curriculars. I decided to reorganise my book cabinet today, and I found the list of activities I had planned for the summer. And while the list was made only earlier this year, I look at it as if it’s a memory from a long-forgotten time.
I read all the well-detailed plans my friends and I had laid out – the different dates in which we would spend time in different parts of the city; learning to drive; having movie nights and sleepovers. It reminds me of a time before social isolation.
The term social isolation now strikes fear and performs the same function as shackles do. While the term started out as a description for voluntary confinement and solitude, in today’s time, it is imposed by a microscopic piece of biology on the entirety of the human race.
This virus is the biggest curveball of not only my life but also that of my grandmother’s. As a third-generation literature student, my initial response to the pandemic was, it’s just more time for me to curl up with a book. Just 6 months later, I see how naive I was.
Technology may have brought us all closer but the stress the pandemic brought, has divided us. I came across a story on Instagram the other day by the New York Times. It said that we may leave 2020 with fewer friends than we started out with. And I could see the truth in it.
To my constant shock and disappointment, my friend group went from seven to four in the span of half a year. I learn new coping mechanisms. I have learnt to adjust to a new time table, to new ways of communicating, to new ways of learning. As I see “glass-half-empty” attitudes being passed from person to person, I try to stabilize myself during this tempest.
The words of Aaron Burr from the Hamilton musical, “I am the one thing in life I can control” keeps ringing in my ears. Losing friends while juggling what seems an insurmountable workload takes its toll on me.
With every passing day, I sleep later and wake up earlier. With exams around the corner, the stress of performing well increases especially with the possibility that these may be used as a cumulative for the board exams.
My family tries to teach me patience during this unforeseen time. I have learnt to spend more time with them. I now spend more time talking about the day to my Nani. My mother and I learn to make plans during a pandemic and discuss safe ways of executing them.
Gone are the days where we could plan parties and book shopping dates. Now we spend time watching a movie and ordering take out. I spend my time alternating between studying and conversing with my friends and family.
It’s been hard to keep in touch with friends when most families including mine complain about the rise in screen time. It becomes harder when we know what they are saying is right and out of the care and consideration they have for us.
Yet, the lack of socializing during this outbreak takes a further toll. It increases the distance between us. It demands more effort from both sides. It tests our patience. My friends and I have inculcated the habit of listening to tracks from the Hamilton musical to help us get through these tumultuous times. We learn to work and help each other for studies.
The pandemic, while it has stolen a lot from me, kept me from my plans for my last year in the school that I have been in for 14 years; distanced me from a few; brought me closer to a few.
It has led me to make new friends all across the globe and India. It has sharpened a few boundaries and erased a few. It is with trepidation and nervousness that I approach the end of this year. I’m apprehensive of making plans for fear of being heartbroken again.
I don’t know if I should adapt to taking everything as it comes or to analyse the different possibilities and prepare for them accordingly. As I look back on the 180 days I have spent cooped up at home, it feels like I have adapted to breathing underwater. It feels like I have evolved and my body has developed gills.
The pandemic has pushed my limits, widened my horizons and made me stronger. I only wonder now, how many more days do I have to continue to adjust and evolve. How many more days will this tempest of a pandemic continue testing us?
2nd of October, 2020