No one ever imagined that we would be battling a global pandemic, in real life. Not the first wave and especially not the heart-breaking and dreaded second wave with losses that were endless—of lives, livelihoods, families, childhoods, and a sense of normalcy and security, amongst others. It spared no one—not the young nor the old, neither the rich nor the poor.

As it receded (in India), it left behind families and communities distraught and struggling to cope with the enormity and the finality of it all. 

Trying to wrap my head around these difficult times, I video called a close friend and ended up discussing stories of loss in her community. “Indeed, things were very bad,” she said as she reeled off a few statistics. I nodded vigorously till she peered at the screen closely and added, “Including you, I guess.” Do I look as grim as I feel, I wondered? “Is that important now?” I countered weakly. It was her turn to nod vigorously. “Hey, but so many other things are looking good now. Like 2020 with its dalgona coffee, banana bread and virtual marathons,” I added and hung up in a hurry. 

Perhaps I should have wielded a comb and some other tools of grooming in preparation for the Zoom call. And I definitely should have done some yoga or participated in all those marathons, virtual or not, instead of pressing delete for the last one and half years. Looking and feeling good/ fit is important for both mental and physical health, especially as we navigate what feels like a never ending pandemic. 

Any form of exercise, a good diet, meditation, and social bonding go a long way to boost the happiness quotient and immunity. 

So do vaccines, but they seem to be in short supply, like common decency as reports of overcharging, fake medicines, hoarding and cheating were common as the second wave peaked.

However, this behaviour was restricted to a few unscrupulous ones. What was evident and abundant was the kindness and empathy of friends (even the frank ones), neighbours, medical fraternity, essential workers and the many volunteers who came together to help in whatever they could. Even amidst the despair and anxiety, they persevered with unending generosity and a positive attitude, inspiring those they helped to pay it forward. A positive outlook is easier said than done as the third wave seems imminent, although we are praying that it does not arrive. 

Clearly, along with the virus a sense of loss, uncertainty and fear hangs in the air. But all is not lost yet. 

Together, we can win by seeing this through to its bitter end. Maybe this is a marathon no one can avoid (what we can avoid are video calls and unending negativity). As the saying goes, the only time we lose is when we don’t try. 

We need to put in our best efforts and keep at it—whether by taking care of our mental/ physical health, living mindfully, by practising yoga, reading, spending time in nature or engaging in any other activity which inspires us to keep going. Especially while booking that vaccination slot. 

Thankfully, the hope vaccine is still within reach— we just need to renew it regularly.

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Richa Tilokani

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