Wisdom//

The Year That Changed It All

Most people would remember 2020 as one of turmoil where life was out of kilter, to put it mildly. The takeaway can be higher though, according to this perspective.

'Keep Each Other Safe': This illustration by Asa Gilland is inspired by life in South East Asia on how we can all help each other be a little safer. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Courtesy Unsplash
'Keep Each Other Safe': This illustration by Asa Gilland is inspired by life in South East Asia on how we can all help each other be a little safer. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Courtesy Unsplash

Not all change is bad. Every negative comes with its own positive. The word positive, however, has become the most negative word in 2020. Yes, Covid-19 has thrown people’s lives, economy and normalcy in turmoil. It has been a year of great loss and heartbreak. 

We all have felt anxiety, uncertainty, loss and lockdown fatigue in phases. It’s like the dystopian future from Black Mirror is here. Besides the turmoil of emotions, it has also brought a change in lifestyle; social distancing, masks, sanitisers are now a part of our lives. So much physical and emotional change can wear anyone down. 

Besides being a defining year in history, 2020 has also been a defining year in my life. 

I got engaged on 6 December, 2019. It was a beautiful, intimate gathering of all our loved ones. A night we will always cherish. Satyajit and I got acquainted in 2018 when we started our passion project, The Open Library Project. We worked as business partners for almost a year before we realised that we could be more. 

We decided to tie the knot on 25 April 2020 in Sri Lanka at a dream beach venue, after the unparalleled podcast proposal that swept me off my feet and gave me wings to fly at the same time. It was to be the typical grand Indian wedding, with all its shenanigans — wedding at the beach by sunset, sangeet, mehndi, cocktail, baraat arriving on a cruise. It was all in place. The Big Indian Wedding. 

But as they say, man proposes, God disposes!

In January 2020 we started to hear about coronavirus cases spreading in China and slowly around the world. Like everyone, we never anticipated that the virus would literally pause the year. By March, when the government imposed restrictions on air travel we realised that the virus is here to stay and Sri Lanka as a venue would not be viable anymore. To add to that, courts were also shut, which led to cancellation of our court wedding on 8 April. 

Along with all the heart-warming support and good wishes from loved ones and friends, came the question: You must be devastated that the wedding is cancelled? After all, this is the day that everyone looks forward to in their lives.

To be honest, this thought had never crossed my mind, I was still in the process of registering all the news. Did I feel devastated? 

The answer to this is not as simple as a yes or no. Of course after having visited Sri Lanka twice and making sure everything was in order, it was disheartening to know that it may not happen now. But the WORLD WAS HIT BY A PANDEMIC! 

When we’re listening to stories about loss of family members, no beds or proper healthcare facilities, of doctors and medical staff who are working tirelessly for us and are being ostracised by ungrateful neighbours in their society, or worse still, are dying of the virus, of unemployment and displacement of migrant workers, hunger, violence and more. How could I possibly be devastated when I was safe and secure at home?

The loop of lockdowns started in Mumbai. This was the point when we decided to look at the situation more pragmatically. Working together has taught us to look at a problem from the outside and to change course accordingly. There was no point in sulking over what was planned. What are the steps that can be taken in the new normal?

The beauty of this year for me has been, that it has taught us that life is going to throw a curveball at you, things are going to get tough, plans are going to get thrown out of track, and you can either learn from it and move on or keep blaming external circumstances for the choices that you made. We made the choice of getting married at home on the same day with the people who mattered the most, and the emotion that mattered the most: being together.

It made us realise that in the most unprecedented circumstances, what really mattered was being “in it together”. How the little things in life mattered the most. 

It may not have been the typical Indian wedding but for me it meant that we will always hold onto each other when things get ugly. What can be more beautiful and perfect than that?

I do hear a lot of people saying, 2020 should be written off. This year is not counted. All I would like to add is, it may not be what we anticipated but the change is profound. This year has given us the opportunity to take responsibility. Our actions have repercussions on others and on nature. It’s an opportunity to be accountable and empathetic, to prove we are worthy of being the most intelligent animal alive. Be kind. Learn from the hard times and feel grateful for all that you have.

This year is proof that misfortune hits everybody equally. How we react to it, makes all the difference.

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