This is our war

It’s May 2020. The fifth month of a year that was meant to be special not just for me, but also for our country. ‘Superpower 2020!’ – that’s what our late President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam told us when we were kids. Today though, I write this blog while the Indian Government announces rules for the upcoming #Lockdown4 as part of its efforts to combat COVID-19. I, like billions of others have been forced to stay indoors while a deadly virus takes ownership of our land. It has invaded not just our world, but also our hearts and minds.

As things stand, it threatens to destroy the way we lived, our plans for the future and the existing pillars of our shared reality. Some folks are exalting about how “nature is healing” and the humbling of human arrogance amid once in century catastrophes. While they’ve have the right to do so and some of these points do hold merit, it’s a view borne out of privilege and inadequate perspective mapping. Right now, we are in the middle of a war. Do not get it twisted, this isn’t hyperbole. It is important for us to accept this fact.

I still know a lot of people who believe this will soon blow over and once we reopen the world, things will get back to what they were. Sorry to break it to you, this is a ‘hard reset’ brought on to us by the Universe. You’ve no choice but to wait till the resetting happens and then respond to the debris of the world you once knew and operated in. In the meantime, you will have to get used to the confinement, living with your own self, handling increasing pressure on the professional front, fighting off burnout, dodging negative thoughts and combating bouts of absolute depression that this lockdown has brought upon us. I know a lot of people who have been over working for the past two months with me being one of them. With the constantly threat of job cuts , one must make the most of what’s given to them right now.

I will not get into the humanitarian cost of this crisis that’s being irrationally borne by India’s poor. It’s ghastly and heartbreaking to see our nation’s poverty bare naked on our screens. Imagine going through it. The real damage of COVID-19 won’t be lives, it will be the economy. And that too costs lives, if not handled properly. The social strife arising out of it can’t be gauged right now. For all our sake I hope it’s minimal. This war that the urban middle class is fighting in their air conditioned homes, glued to their screens is drastically different from the war that’s being fought on the front lines. The poor have been non consenting participants as the first line of defense in our nation’s fight against the pandemic. At least health care and security professionals could imagine this to be part of their jobs.

I know people who were supposed to move countries on the professional front. People who were supposed to get married, who were going to move jobs, who quit and are searching for one, who just joined B-School, who just graduated from B-School and have had their offers rescinded, who have lost family members but couldn’t attend funerals, who have seen their businesses crumble, who have lost lakhs in the stock market and some like me who have had their salaries cut. This is not normal.

So if you find yourself in deep shit, don’t blame yourself. For once, you can absolve yourself of responsibility! It somehow feels good to let go. To give the reins of your life to the universe. To subscribe to the concept of destiny and not worry about each and every small inconvenience that threatens to offset our delicate composure. Think of this event as life underlining the fact that it is irrational. This gives you the freedom to do whatever you want to but not expecting anything out of it. Concentrate on the process and don’t be entitled to the outcome. I know I am being a tad bit over philosophical but I am living in one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. It’s bound to take a toll!

I am staunch believer of the opinion that we’ve overdone the fear mongering of the virus and caused more damage with our ‘solution’. This is just postponing the inevitable. The real test will begin when we reopen the world. How many businesses will survive? How many will find their lives irreparably damaged? I pray the loss isn’t irreversible. We will all be fighting shoulder to shoulder, six feet apart. So take care of yourself and everyone around you because the ‘New Normal’ will need a lot of guile and composure to navigate in.

All the best. Take care.

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