We Survived!

As our family of three hugged and wish each other a happy new year at midnight, my daughter’s first words were, “Hum bach gaye. We survived. We made it.”

Three simple words but they carry the gist of this year in them. This can be interpreted on so many levels. Going by the tone and emotion in her voice, this is what I concluded. There was a huge sigh of relief tinged with a bit of sadness. Was it survivor’s guilt? She doesn’t understand that and I don’t want to dig. There was happiness that we were together and at home (we had been away for eight months and she isn’t forgetting that any time sooner). There was gratitude, oodles of it; which makes me very proud of her. The year brought in its wake quite a few lessons and looking at my wise little one I think she has managed to pick a few of them.

As for me, 2020 did manage to pull the rug beneath my feet and it took every ounce of my energy, all my life’s philosophy and faith to regain my balance. Gratitude and resilience were the oft repeated words of the year for me and I am sure that’s not going anywhere.

This year was a long and hard lesson on self-preservation and that’s not the same as self-centred. I know I have a duty towards myself and unless that’s fulfilled, I shall be unable to help my loved ones. It reminds me of the safety instructions on flights. Wear your own oxygen mask first before you start helping others around you.

Since the past few years, I have been consciously moving away from biases and stereotypes that I may have picked up. This year has shaken me hard and yanked all of them away. I would want to believe that I am much less judgemental than I was at the beginning of the year.

This year made me want to believe in Santa again and to be childlike again, this time for good. Speaking of beliefs, it also reaffirmed my belief in science. The two sentences may sound paradoxical, but they coexist.

Art, in all its forms and glory, came to rescue for a lot of us. I hope this makes us encourage our children to discover and to hold on to their artistic side as we prepare them for the rat race this world often threatens to be.

Speaking of rat race, I think what made it easier for all of us was that the entire world had paused for a while. This made it simpler for us to step back but I am fairly certain that the race is still on and this was just a pit stop. The only question that remains to be seen is, how many of us would choose to dive back in.

Even as some of us faced existential crises, there were people especially those with power who were out to take advantage. If a pandemic could not make them question their ways, nothing can. I hope their followers see through them and remember it.

To 2020, I can only say that you tried to teach us some important lessons. I hope we have imbibed them for life. It was tough love and beyond a point it did become tough to love you. 

As for 2021, I know you have a lot to live up to. Do the best you can but the world does need some cheer and we are counting on it.

Dr. Shivani Salil

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