A LETTER TO A CHILD YET TO BE BORN
I do not know who you are, but I thought I would give you a first person account of what will be remembered as a historically significant part of the past.
So, here I go.
Once upon a time, there was a virus. Now, I am not going to tell you much about the virus- your parents will do that. But, I will tell you what it did to our lives.
It did, what nobody would have ever, ever imagined. It shut us all up in our houses, made prisoners of us at home! Can you imagine that? I am presuming that life has come back to ‘normal’ in your times and this is, but a distant memory for both me and your parents.
Can you imagine what it must have been like? Not being able to run out, play games in the park, not being able to meet your friends and relatives, stuck within the four walls of your house?
It was terrible and then, as it has been since the beginning of time, we all adjusted to the new ‘normal’ and life began in earnest for most of us inside the four walls and before a computer screen. There were many victories. We learnt new tricks and I must tell you, my child, I did more learning this one year than I had done in all the past years. I listened to good, well-read speakers who knew what they were talking about, I completed a couple of courses, making compost from the vegetable waste became a part of my morning routine, paying more attention to what I was buying in terms of packaging and what that would do to the environment I would leave behind for you has become part of my thinking process. Though I spent more time working at my job, I also spent more time reading and reflecting. Did I have more than 24 hours at my disposal? No. Perhaps it was the hours gleaned from the disproportionate amount of time we spend on travelling, shopping and socializing.
So, coming back to the virus which started it all, one way of looking at it is that it did us good. It made us pause and look at our lives and as Rainer Maria Rilke, the author of Letters To A Young Poet said- “sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”
Do you know what that means in our context?
Though many people died during the pandemic, there was, as I mentioned earlier, a lot of good that came out of it. What is important is that one must not blame people or countries or systems, but accept what has happened or meet it head-on and then work towards making it a better world where it cannot happen again. The way we were living was as though there was no tomorrow, our actions had brought about climate change, there was massive urbanization, we were eliminating the distance between man and animal in a negative way and we were blithely going about living in our bubble without fear of it bursting.
And then, the bubble burst.
And I hope my generation and your parents’ generation will remember the lesson it taught us.
We owe it to ourselves and each another. We need to patch and fix what we have done to the environment, we need to pay attention to the people we have in our lives and though technology to a large extent saved our lives, we must not let it take over our lives!
And eventually, though it has been a difficult and incomprehensible time for many, I am hoping that the dust has settled by the time you are able to understand what happened and this will become a distant memory like the pandemics of the past. I hope your generation will learn from our mistakes, be more vigilant and treasure even that simple hug that spoke a million words- because you see, when the world was crumbling around us, we couldn’t even afford to hug each other!
With insight born from hindsight,
A GEN Xer
Head- Senior School