Before we begin, a note: This blog is special for a number of reasons. One, because I wrote it when all hope was slipping away from me. Quarantine had left me emotionally and mentally exhausted, and writing this really helped. Second, because with this, we reach a 100 posts. Though the 100th post is just as important as my 72nd or 54th, I cannot help but be proud of myself; even if its a little bit. I know I have miles to go before I sleep, but for now, I rest at this milestone.
I keep seeing people trying to get things back to normal. Moving around a few blocks in slippers and light masks, getting ice-cream from street-side shops, meeting up with a close group of friends; doing everything we can to momentarily ignore the plague that has consumed our entire lives.
What do I make of this? Do I try to hold on to hopes that everything will go back to normal again, or do I accept the fact that nothing can ever be the same? What do I tell the little cousin who tugs at the hem of my shirt and asks me to take her out to the park? Do I tell her that the life she has seen before this, is forever going to be a reminder to everything we have lost? Or do I hug her and tell her that it’s going to be okay again?
Being a teenager has never been easy, even without the question of a life-threatening virus roaming the streets of our world. Today, we are faced with a hurdle that our young and angry minds cannot untangle. We try to walk past it but fall back. We stumble across unknown territory, cry and shout because we didn’t sign up for any of this. All we wanted was a normal life and the permission to be a normal teenager in normal times.
And yet here we are, missing graduations and high-school parties, missing orientations, missing opportunities to make memories with our friends. Here we are, reaching out for help, laughing through tears, singing songs to each other across balconies, watching the sunset from our terraces while people die in hospitals. Here we stand, in the epicentre of a pandemic, armed with masks and sanitizers and the last bits of strength we have left.
Even through all of this, though, look at our audacity.
Instead of crumbling to defeat at the hands of a virus, we stand tall, look it in the eye, and tell it ‘We are humans. We come from centuries of evolution. Watch us get through this too.’
Some days, I wonder what the next generations will be able to call relics from their past. Ideally, I would want to say ‘survival’, but here is the truth stripped bare: survival has, and will always be, the first instinct of any living thing. Let your muscles loosen in a pool of water, and you will find yourself floating- even though you are not trying to. Survival has guided generations of human beings through political polarisation, genocide, hatred, defeat, war and death, and everything that has tried to kill us. It cannot be held as a memento, when it is always going to be relevant.
Other days, I wonder what our generation is going to look back upon when we are old and in rocking chairs. Will we be able to catch a glimpse of what was before? Or will we move forward, chase the rest of our insane science-fiction dreams without a second glance? Will we be in history books by the time all of this ends? Or will we be making history, reaching out for Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes, smiling for cameras as we fumble for words?
I don’t know. I have more questions than I know the answers to. And I will probably never know all the answers either. I guess that’s okay too. But in these trying times, all we can do is hope. Someone told me that hope will always prevail over fear, and that in a battle between death and life, life works harder to win. Though it is not easy to hope when it feels as if everything is crumbling, we’ll still try; with poetry, with music, with art. With video calls, with collaborative playlists, with letters, with isolation and distancing. We will try, we will try even when we don’t want to.
So before I end, I will say something to the universe:
Maybe our children and grandchildren will inherit bundles of masks and will be told ‘You ancestors did not die because of these; they lived because of the masks.’ Maybe they will inherit the flame we have set light to- a burning desire to forge a world from the ashes of its remains.
One that is better and brighter than the last.
May they take from our battle wounds, every lesson they can possibly learn about survival. May they see the good from our protests and our struggles. May they see the hopes we have left for them. May they see our efforts and our blood, may they see what we turned from dreams to reality.
May they see in us, the beauty that we have tried to see in ourselves.
To the generations that come after us, to the generation that will hopefully breathe in safer air, we leave a message; we leave a time capsule wrapped in hope, and we tell them this- You are stronger than us. May you do right what we have done wrong.