From a Foreign Field: COVID-19 at Home

I’ve been wanting to write nearly every day for the past six months, since my posting habit actually stopped. In these months, I’ve written a diary daily, which means that there was some kind of writing & reflection hapepning. After a couple of months though, I’ve come to recognize that this blog has provided me with a lot of comfort when my mind is racing, and so, I’d like to write here again. Eventually the newsletter will return too, and that is when I think I’ll feel a writer once more. For the first time in three years, I missed all of GloPoWriMo, for example, which is a true aberration for all the writing I feel is in me waiting to be written.

That’s why I’m writing now. Thank you for reading.

Everything that I’ve done in the past two weeks has carried the extra weight of knowing I was away from India, where the COVID crisis is unraveling once more. Without delving into an analysis of causation (Government mismanagement being the majority contributor in my view), the number of lives lost, and the number of lives struggling is gut-wrenching. As the numbers rose, what I think happened for most of us is that they stopped being numbers to us anymore. For me at least, I started associating these numbers with names – of extended family, or the family of close friends, or close friends themselves. For a while, I didn’t want to use social media to amplify anything. Being a few hours behind India, any stories I share, or resources I amplify on social media seem to be out-of-the-loop and outdated – behind the times. That started to become a very nauseating feeling, because I descended into helplessness.

I know I have exams, and personally, my focus remains on them, but it’s very difficult to hear about what people are going through (and how discriminatorily the effects are being felt) and sit on the sidelines. I’m grateful that this sentiment was something a few online resources addressed, and with the help of some friends, there should be some way to feel less helpless and less distant, when I want to be as connected with home as possible.

One of my friends told me there was a dissonance between her physical space and her virtual space. I could not agree more. My instagram, twitter, and facebook reflect India, but here in the United Kingdom, restrictions are easing and the situation appears to be a lot better. This pandemic does not distinguish though, and while I am grateful that the situation here is okay (one less place in crisis), I’m not willing to enjoy it completely as yet. A part of me still fears the possibility of cross-border infection & transmission – given flights and travel is still taking place.

For the most part, I’ve also been ignoring the news. The reports are mostly just numbers. I don’t want to see numbers. At the end of the World Wars, there were Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers set up to commemorate the lives humanity lost – and all the unknown soldiers who were killed in war. Reporting feels like that. It genuinely feels like there is no record of all the human stories that we are losing daily. Some will always go unreported, unheard. That is crushing. I’m therefore going to continue ignoring the news, but not the people.

I guess this is what most people are doing as well.

There’s of course been good things that have happened in the past couple of weeks, and I’m very grateful for them. I’m just going to hold on to them till this cloud of sadness lifts and the sun shines again. I just wonder what that sun will look like.