May the year 2021, bring peace and real joy to our world. After living a life without indulgences in 2020, we have now realised that we can live satisfactorily, even beautifully with the minimum in life, says NITA AGARWAL

May the year 2021, bring peace and real joy to our world. After living a life without indulgences in 2020, we have now realised that we can live satisfactorily, even beautifully with the minimum, the basics in life.

With the dawn of January 1, 2021, we are now into the new year and the beginning of a new decade. The year 2020 has been a dramatic year for the whole world. The first quarter passed quickly, but in the beginning of March, there were concerns about Covid-19 being a deadly virus affecting various countries around the world. It started with China and soon we heard of the virus causing deaths in Italy and many other countries of Europe.

Nita Agarwal

The speed with which the virus was spreading and the number of fatalities reported made the WHO declare the disease a pandemic and issue guidelines in an endeavour to control its spread. The impact on India was marginal in March, but as other countries were reporting a lot of cases, the government decided it was best to suspend international flights to India.

Maybe the decision was late by a week or two, because even though a national lockdown was declared on March 25, we were already struck by the deadly Covid- 19. Initially the number of cases were less, but quickly the disease spread among the masses.

The national lockdown, a first-time experience for  citizens, took all of us by surprise. Our normal routine and life style went for a toss and we were jolted out of our easy comfortable lifestyle and locked inside our houses.

Empty and noiseless roads looked eerie and strange. Birds and animals, too, seemed to be  intrigued by the silent environment. There were reports of wild animals venturing on the road.

Initially with no house help, life appeared difficult and hard. Lack of easy availability of grocery, fruits and vegetables made me realise how much we had taken life and things for granted. I remember in April, after doing all the housework by noon, I just wanted to lie down and rest.

But after a month, the same work appeared routine and simple with no feeling of tiredness. It made me realise, how we had developed lazy habits because we have services of all kinds available easily and cheaply in India. However, doing the house work made me feel fitter and more energetic.

Due to the lack of hustle and bustle of human activity, we were breathing pure fresh air. Rivers were looking cleaner and the skies reflected beautiful shades of dramatic colours at sunset. Nature was blooming and some of its lost beauty was returning to thrill and rejuvenate our spirits.

There were blessings galore from Covid-19. Firstly, work-from-home provided the opportunity for families to spend more time together. Family bonding ignited our culinary skills. Many people whom I know came up with tasty dishes that in pre-Covid times they would have only dreamt about.  I too tried to make samosas and jalebis even though I am not an enthusiastic cook. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram were full of mouth-watering pictures of people’s culinary art on display.

However, those  struck by Covid-19 suffered immensely. Apart from the severity of the symptoms, the isolation from loved ones seemed unbearable. Being a Covid patient seems nightmarish.

Many lost their loved ones unexpectedly. My dear friend lost her spouse. She is shocked, in grief and still trying to accept this unexpected tragedy. I feel great empathy for her loss.  

Many lost their jobs, while hundreds of migrant workers walked miles to be with their loved ones in this period of crisis. Small businesses and daily earners suffered a lot. However, this crisis also brought out the humane side of our police force, and the dedication of health care staff along with doctors. People in large numbers, perhaps millions, voluntarily fed the needy and the jobless.

The worst brought out the best in our scientists too, as they have worked hard to find a cure via research for a safe vaccine against this deadly virus. The scientific  and medical community all over the world has put in a lot of hard work to save lives. Many countries have come up with vaccines within a year of the pandemic and India too is expected to have its own indigenous vaccine soon.

This pandemic has made people pause and rethink, where we are going and how vulnerable our lives are. One virus has brought the whole world to a halt. People have realised the beauty of a simple and healthy life over a fast-paced life.

It has now dawned on us that a lot of work can be done successfully from home. It will save time, money, fuel and our environment from pollution. Virtual seminars could become the new norm.  People can travel only if very necessary. Indeed, one of the best lessons from Covid-19 is that it has raised awareness about our responsibility to keep the environment clean and healthy.

Wearing masks is a very good practice, for it saves us from pollution. If we continue with the practice, then it will save us from future infections and viruses. We should make it a habit to wear masks in public places like the Japanese have been doing even before the coronavirus attacked us.

Another important blessing of Covid-19 in 2020 has been a dip in general sickness of kids and elderly because of eating healthier home food and avoiding junk food. Also, the elderly could get attention of their kids as everyone was at home.

Picture of Hope in 2021

The year of crisis has been a year of learning, for 2020 has taught us many things. It has taught us how to be responsible, caring, and above all, see beauty in simple and healthy living. A big realisation is that real strength of character and capability shines forth in crisis. Most importantly, the Covid-19 crisis has shown that humanity is still alive in our heart.

When the crisis blows over, we should not go back to our old ways. We must align our living with our natural world, to ensure that imbalances between the human and natural world are a thing of the past.

May the year 2021, bring peace and real joy to our world. After living a life without indulgences in 2020, we have now realised that we can live satisfactorily, even beautifully with the minimum, the basics in life. Let’s make it our way of living.

If we succeed in this endeavour, we will learn to live with compassion towards fellow beings, love and respect our natural surroundings, and thus be more conscious of our duties than our rights.

Nita Agarwal is an ex-Table Tennis State player, qualified teacher, self-taught budding painter, a successful blogger, who writes about her observations of life and people; and most importantly, a working housewife. 

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