Updated: May 4
Sanskriti Pattanayak | Bangalore, India
There is a soundless murmur of a crashing wave, an unknown phantom that’s engulfing someone, someone you don’t know, somewhere far away from home. It’s December 2019, and I’m blissfully unaware, maybe even ignorant, about something that would soon become almost engraved into our lifestyles.
Fast forward to March 2020, India is now well under the spell of Covid-19. One day we’re in college, playing with our sanitizers because at that moment it just felt like an issue that was too distant, too foreign to us. Our college tells us it is the last working day and we’d be getting a 15-day break after which we’d have our exams once college reopens. At that point, this break felt like it would be a nice short get away from all the hustle-bustle, a time to collect all the scattered pieces of half-finished projects and just get life back on track before exams. A day before April, my college announces a one-month closure. This pattern continues for a while and before we know it no one is keeping track. Changed deadlines, haphazard patterns, completely transformed curriculums, and now when I look back there are faint blurry lines in between all these periods. If you asked me to tell you what happened in chronological order, I’d say I have no idea.
The pandemic has really been almost too persistent, a never-ending part of all of our lives. It‘s like the moon has gone through phases and no matter how hard you try to find beauty in these phases very evidently you realize the darkness all around you, like a cycle, is waxing and waning and waxing again but it’s as if the part of the day filled with light is over in the blink of an eye, and it's nighttime again. Over and over again.
We all learned a lot of things, we were part of our very own broadway shows, playing different roles on different days, maybe because it was almost like we had too much time and this opened up a whole new world of exploring our creative interests. We painted, we cooked, we danced, and re-decorated our personal spaces. Sometimes we were so full of life and energy that our sweet little one-person show was a little musical, we swayed in the tunes of a happy melody, we celebrated little joys and our creations for the day. At the end of the day, we found ourselves huddled up in that re-decorated corner looking at our phones, watching glimpses, small teasers of shows our friends and even strangers on the Internet put together. It was fun, it was refreshing how the same old people were doing things purely because they wanted to, not to meet any deadlines, not to meet any expectations, just because they could. Well of course you had your “unproductive days” where you slacked off and you grumpily sat cursing at how terribly bored you are and how you longed for a normal life.
Some other days were not so fun, these were days we cocooned ourselves in our thoughts, it was the stillness around us that suddenly made the noise inside our heads so much louder. We all had these days, days where you rethink everything about your life, about who you are and who you want to be. About what you could have done and what you are doing right now. I personally think being alone with my thoughts really channelled some rather confusing set of chained reactions in my head and they kind of only had a few outlets, it was either me crying until I’m over the thought, what I simply called the “drama” my head is creating or it was me powering through by distracting myself with one of my million newfound hobbies.
There were some other days, days I basked in the balcony sun purely because I had nowhere else to go. Swinging in the chair while mindlessly appreciating life, not something I do that often. Soon enough I’d feel the heat and would pamper myself with a nice shower and some showering (quite literally) of self-love. These days were fun, listening to music, watching way too much youtube for my own good, prancing around jobless from room to room looking at the rest of my family having one of their productive days. I felt spirited sometimes, playing dress-up and doing a little runway walk for my own private show. These days life came full circle, everything felt like it would be okay.
Slowly everything became relaxed, we had our exams offline in the college. Meeting people after so long even if it was from the windows of our own cars was fun, it felt like we weren’t all that alone anymore. Slowly and surely we started going out, meeting our friends, it was limited and with restrictions but it felt good. Weirdly enough this whole pandemic brought us all closer than we had ever been, wouldn’t say I’m thankful to the pandemic for it, but it is, in fact, one of those small silver linings among what is otherwise something rather dreadful. From celebrating birthdays virtually over calls where we’d stay up playing games and talking all night to actually starting to meet each other in person, we were so very thankful for it all. We had sleepovers in our small social bubbles and had sweet little nothings. It felt like everything was coming together, like this would end soon, and then the second wave hit. And it hit hard.
They say death is something you don’t quite understand and even perceive till it happens to someone you care for. I would say that’s impossible to not understand up until now. I didn’t realize how numb and full of emotions you can feel all at once when you lose someone.
Watching the clock tick, waiting anxiously and praying for someone’s life is hard and dealing with their loss is, well it just hits you bad. There is a phase of mourning followed by a state of acceptance and then just fondly remembering them; their little antics, their little quirks, their spirit and their heart. It is heart-wrenching to think that there are so many people feeling this every minute of every day. But I guess we move on, I guess life makes us move on.
Chaos. Who would guess that living under one roof with your favorite people in the whole wide world could literally make you want to pluck your eyes right off their sockets? We used to just have dinner together but now we were all constantly right up against each other's business. We had our movie nights, we had our little balcony picnics, we had our fights about who had to do the dishes that day and well we had loads of family time. In weird ways, I am thankful for that, because I can’t imagine having to do this otherwise. I remember my sister being outside the country just two days before India closed arrivals from international waters, and I think I’m just so glad she got back on time because boy would it be hard to be the only child my parents could annoy!
Honestly, when I write this I realize I have so much more to say about the pandemic and I wouldn’t know where to stop. Writing about something this uncertain, something this omnipresent almost scares me because just writing an end to this makes me hopeful. Hopeful that things will get better, that like everything this will come to an end, someday this will be just a chapter (well let’s be honest maybe a couple of chapters?) in the book of our life.
Sanskriti Pattanayak is a 20-year-old from Bangalore, India currently pursuing her Bachelor's in Computer Science. Her existence summed up in a phrase would be "Unicorn meets occasional Eeyore" (you must get Winnie the Pooh references). Find her on Instagram @sanskriti_11. Her other works can be viewed on her blog: https://sanskritipattanayak.wixsite.com/sanskriti/