• Rukmini Ravishankar

Could We Survive

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

It has been an embarrassingly long time since I last wrote something here. I have been preoccupied with a bunch of things – research for an upcoming article, my college project, freelance work, and, most importantly, procrastinating and spiraling out of control as a direct result of everything that has been happening in the world. There is this daunting sense of impending doom that’s looming over me and I’ve been trying my best to cope with the fear and stay just above the surface.

It is funny how at times like these, when there seems to be nothing interesting going on in the personal lives of most people, so many hitherto undiscovered emotions reveal themselves. I, for one, never, ever imagined that I would be paranoid about spreading infections. I’d always been the self-proclaimed daredevil when it came to drinking water from a tap on the street or buying questionable food or rewriting the 5-second rule to suit my convenience. But over the past couple of weeks, I have become incredibly cautious and scared of doing something stupid and ending up infecting the people around me. What’s worse, this fear isn’t about struggling from the disease so much as it is about having to spend thousands of rupees on hospital charges.

Earlier today, my mother and I had stepped out to buy some groceries. She slipped inside the supermarket amid crowd that didn’t quite seem to care that we’re seeing over a thousand deaths a day, while I stood outside, waiting. It was cool and pleasant, with the smells of Gol Gappa and Aloo Chat coursing through the air around me. Instead of reminiscing about bygone college days when I spent hours and rupees on food, all I did was stand there under a street lamp, keeping a safe distance from everyone.

And yet, it is not the pandemic that has got us sinking in these bad moods and negative emotions. Failing authorities, unfair verdicts and irresponsible messengers are frivolously sensationalising less important matters to divert our attention from pressing problems in the country. It’s as if the whole country is dealing with a problem by repressing the crap out of it. We are locking up everything important in a tiny little box within our brains and then screaming about things that don’t matter. We’re deflecting; we’re playing the escapist.

Although things are looking bleak, I can’t say that this is the worst I’ve ever felt. As I’m sure is the case for many people around the world, the pandemic has given me the opportunity to do a thorough reflection of my life, starting from how much food and water I consume in a day all the way up to what I want to be doing fifteen years from now. I have managed to formulate a system that works for me – a system that holds me accountable and helps me stay productive. I have understood what it takes to support a family of four people while struggling with staggering amounts of work every day. I have seen what it takes to spend more than half a day cooking, then get barely sixty minutes to relax before teaching an online class, and then get right back into the kitchen again.

I definitely look forward to better times, normal times, and I know that they will come someday. But then, I remember every cliché cinema character that has nothing to brag about except for being a part of some historically significant event – not on the frontlines, but simply as a fragment of the lifeless background. I think to myself, a few years down the lane, I could be that character. And that is terrifying. There is so much more to life. There needs to be. The last thing I want is for me to be someone who has no accomplishments but for surviving a pandemic. And there starts my journey of making a difference. I’m not sure to succeed, but I won’t leave without trying. For no matter how horrible the world is, nothing is more frightening than the prospect of living a life and dying without leaving a mark. I don’t want to be a mere statistic.

Photo: Dinesh Divakaran

Title Credits: Joseph Arthur


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