Saturday, June 19, 2021

Treasured Trifles


During the course of the pandemic, some have had it better than others. And they are reminded of it constantly. The loss and bereavement left in the wake of Covid and its mutant strains has been chronicled with punctilious effort across the digital network, making it impossible to remain unscathed by the volcanic eruption of collective grief over the passing of loved ones, lost opportunities, reduced circumstances and dead dreams. It is a harrowing time marked by a voluminous outpouring of sorrow. Most try to do what they can to offer comfort or a kind word. The more empathetic absorb the sadness into their own hearts to lighten the burden of others. Subsequently, there is a miasmic heaviness of spirit that affects all and an overwhelming buildup of compassion fatigue that afflicts not just those who are in the line of fire and committed to helping victims of the pandemic but even among those who are stuck at home with loaded pantries and unlimited screen time.

There is mounting pressure to be positive at all times and count thy blessings which are usually manifold, when taken by themselves and particularly so in light of the tragedy suffered by others. Which is why the so – called trivial losses which might include a cancelled vacation, dancing at a relative’s wedding, a chance to avail of a scholarship to study abroad, even the disruption of a routine life which included regular trips to the mall or shooting the breeze with friends tends to be dismissed. If folks are inclined to dwell on all the fun they missed out on over the course of the past year and a half, there are attendant feelings of guilt and a proclivity not to acknowledge private regret for all the things one might have looked forward to or lost out on. Because the paltry even if precious is not supposed to matter when weighted against the big picture. 

However, the truth is every individual is the sun, moon and stars in his/her/insert gender – neutral pronoun world and all else spins around this nucleus of the all - important self. A toothache may attain far more significance than all the starving people on the planet or the sad predicament of children left orphaned by the pandemic. The ennui that sets in from being holed up at home, frustration over thwarted aspirations humble though they may have been, loneliness that creeps in on cat’s paws even when close to loved ones, yearning for a means that currently doesn’t seem available to drink more deeply from the cup of life… these persistent feelings are by no means insignificant and it does not reflect badly on anyone to grieve. For what could have been. What wasn’t. And what might never be.

This column was originally published in The New Indian Express.

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