2020 has truly been an annus horribilis for each one of us in different ways. Millions have endured hardship of losing a job as a consequence of the pandemic-enforced lockdown. Many became the victim of untimely death as they walked on foot to their hometowns from big cities of the country. Many lost their humble abode as floods and cyclones ravaged the coastal areas.
For some, it may have not been this grave and they probably just missed going out with their friends and loved ones. Or missed out on concerts, games and gathering in groups. Many just didn't like abandoning their travel plans, or gym routine. For some, who did not lose their job, the pressure and frustration of working from home took a toll on them.
As for me, I... lost my father to coronavirus!
I’ve heard many crib about this year for the reasons of their own. I’ve read pieces suggesting we merely skip this year and move ahead. I more than most would like to forget 2020. I would like to find the fast forward button which every other social media user kept mentioning or even a delete button for that matter. Alas! I cannot. I can neither skip nor forget this year, but only learn from it.
Despite all the grief and the macabre thoughts I was surrounded by, I am trying to use this year as a learning experience rather than let it pull me down. It did come close to wrecking me, but I’ve already come out stronger. There have been many reasons and instances in the last few days which have propelled me to see the light of day again. I take this opportunity to address countless others who have gone through a similar phase and share my minuscule learnings from this terrible year.
It has been four months now. The sorrow took a while to subside. It took weeks to get into the right frame of mind. It needed many distractions and finally a jolt to get back to my senses. Looking back at the year, I see myself evolved into a responsible and mature person which I never was. I am rather lucky to have the strong support of my mom and my younger brother, who have their own griefs to overcome. I am also fortunate to have friends, who constantly inquire about my well-being, and go out of their way to bring a smile on my face.
Just a few days after papa’s passing, I was diagnosed with young hypertension and vitamin deficiency. I also had my bouts with anxiety. Although the medications are going on, I’ve changed my habits totally. This was an eye-opener in more ways than one. It made me realise that I always neglected my health, both physical and mental. A good run in the morning, an hour of reading, binging some show, following a good diet, and work, obviously, help me feel better about myself. Sharing my feelings, be it pessimistic and gory or cheerful and exultant, helps me cope with my anxiety. Also, a getaway now and then has helped heal the invisible wounds.
Before papa passed away, the 24-year-old me had never paid any bills, not even electricity and water. I knew nothing about taxes and the other nitty-gritty that are required to run a house. Dad took care of everything, leaving us to enjoy the bounties of life. After him, being the breadwinner of the family, this responsibility was more than I could handle. I would have crumbled under it all if it weren’t for my mom and brother. We have found a way by dividing responsibilities and helping one another through all of it.
I also took up papa’s cherished hobby - gardening. He loved to buy pots and plant seasonal veggies in them. I took upon the advice of a friend, who told me that gardening has a positive effect on our mental health, it helps overcome anxiety and gives us a sense of responsibility, and I have come to find a lot of happiness in the task. Watering the plants and watching the babies grow, with my grandma, is something I have come to immensely enjoy.
The adversity has changed me. I am not the same person anymore. I realised it while replying to a stranger. He had messaged me after reading my earlier piece where I wrote about my grief of losing papa. He said that he also lost his father to COVID-19 and his situation was very similar to mine. He also wasn’t able to touch his father in those dreadful final moments. I later realised that my text to him was basically advice to myself. I wrote, “I am really sorry for your loss and I completely understand the pain you are going through. I also wasn't able to touch my father during those agonising final moments. It's a loss that we can't ever forget in our lives. Nothing and nobody will even come close to what our fathers meant to us individually. However, our fathers will only pray and wish we become successful in our lives and carry forward their legacies. Please take care of your family and yourself.”
With the New Year almost upon us, I only hope and pray that the pall of gloom descended on us in 2020, lifts in 2021. As for me, I would love to continue on my path of recovery and healing, and making papa proud and fulfilling his dreams.