My dear 2020...

Aditi Sengupta | Updated on December 31, 2020

Moving on: I think I will miss you, but that doesn’t mean that I want you back   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

You’ve been tough, but some lessons are best learnt the hard way. A farewell note

Hope this finds you well — without cough, fever, scratchy throat and fatigue!

I also hope your bags are packed. You have but a few hours to leave the stage to 2021. Your bags, I’m afraid, must be heavy — heavier than most years that came and went before your arrival. Apart from the usual weight of dashed hopes, broken hearts and unfulfilled dreams, you have the excess baggage of a pandemic: One that has affected millions of lives, jobs, peace of mind and the overall sense of well-being and happiness. It’s a blessing that you don’t need an aircraft for the onward journey. No airline would allow luggage of such proportions.

There are, however, some good things in that baggage that will make your passage into the next world less cumbersome. Tales of kindness, for instance. Commitment to work, as shown by the millions of doctors, nurses, healthcare workers around the world. The ability to count blessings — a skill that no arithmetic teacher will give you a gold star for.

It’s amazing that a tiny virus — invisible to the naked eye — has taught us things that the best of universities, mentors and spiritual leaders have failed at.

I have a lot to thank you for, dear 2020.

You began well for me, on a bright, festive and relaxing note — thanks to a (loud, colourful) family wedding and the longest ever leave (all of three weeks) in a career of close to 20 years.

In about six weeks, my recharged batteries were dealing with the stress of staying Covid-19-free, stocking up on supplies and being optimistic (even cheerful) about a pay cut. The laptop, resting on a wooden trunk table, became the centre of my universe. The farthest I could go from the table was the kitchenette, where I counted every slice of sourdough bread with the passion that Shakespeare’s Shylock counted his gold.

While slathering butter or apple jam on the bread, I rediscovered the joys of having a window in the house. I used it to reaffirm my belief that parks and gardens are meant only for birds, butterflies and squirrels. The window also reintroduced me to the morning sky, the evening light and the stillness of the night — things that windows in office buildings almost always block out. The window also brought back the childhood joy of watching an aeroplane thunder its way across the blue.

The joy of small things, dear 2020, has been your most precious gift to me. I’d grown up hearing that good things come in small packages. In a year of rarely eating out — which is an aberration in my scheme of things — small boxes of food delivered me from the new normal of bread/dosa/salad diets. Doting friends and loving nieces plied me with hot curries, soups and rotis — all neatly packaged and dropped at the doorstep, in the true spirit of social distancing.

Between bouts of handwashing and hand-wringing (over some hairy copy), I enjoyed a few joyrides. Come Saturday evening, and a red hatchback picked me up from the gate and ferried me around town for exactly half an hour before driving me home. It was my weekly ticket to paradise, and I felt no less than a regent in a horse-drawn carriage. I spent those 30 minutes in silence — in acknowledgement of the fact that I am alive, healthy and also able to leave the house.

‘Touch-me-not’ is not a motto that I’d ever like to embrace, my convent education notwithstanding. But — dear 2020 — you have also taught me that one should ‘never say never’. While I rue the lack of the physical touch, I have opened my mind to the other varieties. Who knew, until the pandemic, that words can make you feel like you have a hand in your hand, fingers interlocked, the grip both steady and alluring?

So, thank you, 2020, for these learnings and revelations. You’ve been tough, but some lessons are best learnt the hard way.

I think I will miss you, but that doesn’t mean that I want you back. Please stay put wherever you are going. And be safe.



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Published on December 31, 2020
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