At last, it is time to bid 2020 adieu. What can one say about this year that has scampered by under the shadow of the Corona virus? For most of us it has passed in a blur of coping with lockdowns, masks, sanitizers, social distancing and immunity boosters. For many is has been about hospitals and ventilators, and for still others about impersonal funerals. It’s a slice of time we would never want repeated.
The dreaded COVID virus paid me a visit between October and end November. The experience was debilitating, isolating and confusing. At the close of the year I tried to look beyond the illness and coping, into what if anything I learnt from going through the trauma that is COVID19. In retrospect I find, being confined to a room for more than a month made me realize and learn a lot of things.
- The utmost importance of keeping one’s physical apparatus in working condition, and trying to stay as fit as possible going forward. We all know that health is wealth, but when suddenly mortality becomes a real possibility the whole perspective changes. As I took my fever and oxygen levels every six hours all alone in a room and made notes, the importance of a healthy body, at least one that can fight invaders well came home.
- What we do take our minds off a situation or de-stress is unique to a person and probably to a situation. Normally when unwell or distressed I would turn to music on the radio, and rarely watched a screen. During my internment I found that music did not manage to take my mind off my predicament. A crime series on an OTT platform on my phone diverted my mind. What helps in distress is variable, and is important to identify in a given situation.
- My room overlooked the entry to a big garden in Delhi. Every evening as the sun set, I sat on a chair and watched people stream into the garden. Seeing the healthy, chirpy groups busy with everyday life was the highlight of my dreary day. It somehow gave me a sense of hope and immense joy. The ordinary and everyday is beautiful and small things can bring an unparalleled lightness of being.
- The clothes and belongings stacked in the locked cupboards and closets dissolved in a haze of nothingness. The pleasure of managing a bath after a week was more than what any material belonging had ever given me. I lost the desire to own stuff and things. When I recovered and opened the cupboards I realized I have much more than I need. Freedom from desire to acquire is priceless
- Nothing – actually nothing truly matters. All the angst, anger, pain, regret, sadness, jealousy, etc that one feels in day to day living have no meaning. When you get up every day with the fear that things might go south all of a sudden, these emotions become superfluous. Life indeed can become too short to carry these burdens. I learnt about generosity of spirit while I recovered alone in a room. I forgave and let go a lot – because I realized how irrelevant the baggage was. It made me lighter of spirit and calmer
- Friends and well wishers form a mesh of protection that is without compare. Whether it was in finding doctors, helping in getting tests done, sending food or simply reaching out– the way my friends and colleagues rallied around, it cushioned the spiral fall into COVID. I have always valued friends, but during the illness I realized that investing in friends and relationships is the best asset of life
- A caring and supportive family is the biggest gift of life. In the years of a marital bond, many differences with one’s spouse creep in. However, when a severe illness brings out the best in the spouse, you realize the value of the bond anew. Children who care and are there for you give you strength and make the experience of life something to savour
- COVID19 turned out to be a tough teacher to learn the meaning of gratitude from. But learn it I did. ( I hope) The experience made me grateful for so much in my existence.
As 2021 dawns, I hope and pray for all of us that it rises from the shadow of the virus, and we incorporate in our lives the lessons it has strewn in its path.