Year in Musing
– Anjana Ashok
The month is June, the year is 2020.
My alarm rings early in the morning, the same alarm I’ve had for years. Once I switch it off, I do not get up immediately.
I have things to do, but I don’t have places to be anymore. My alarm is too early now- I will sleep some more, through the minutes I used to spend in the car. That’s okay, I think. I do not need to spend every spare second on my feet. I have work and I am doing it. I do it well and I do it on time. It’s okay if I choose to sleep for an extra half an hour.
This is drastically different from my old mindset. I don’t know if it’s a good change or a bad one. Or whether it has to be good or bad. Whether it has to be anything at all.
It’s too many thoughts. I close my eyes for five more minutes.
Eventually, though, I am up. I do the same things I have always done, shower and eat and prepare myself for the day. I am dressed well, only to sit in front of my screen and switch off my camera. Spend a few hours talking to other switched-off cameras.
We cannot meet in person anymore, the way we used to so easily. For the first couple of months, my ear was glued to my phone, talking to anyone and everyone for hours. I don’t know when or why it stopped- maybe when we realised that this life would last longer than we thought. Maybe when we realised we needed to slowly adapt and move forward, and that meant we couldn’t spend six hours on the phone as though it was an extended break.
But either way, it did stop. Every day became every week became every other week. And that’s okay, too- I realised that I need people as much as I don’t. It might not make sense to everyone, but for me it depends on that moment, and for now I am managing alright.
Summer seems longer than ever. It is a relief when my semester begins. It feels no different from the summer, except for the semblance of a planned day it provides me. Maybe it’s because I have not moved. Because the same desk that I used over the summer to watch videos and read books, I continue using to watch lectures and read notes. I am starting a new semester in an old place. New people whom I may never meet in person.
It changes everything and nothing. I am used to it now. There is less complaint about this normalcy. But when I actually think about it- when did this become ‘normal’? Is it normal? Or is it just a subdued acceptance of the inevitable? These thoughts don’t plague my mind constantly, but rather appear in moments or flashes. Other times, my thoughts are just the same as last year and the year before that- what to submit next, what book to order, what’s for lunch, should I call my friends today or over the weekend?
I do not go out for months and months. When the winter vacation finishes and the next semester starts, I sit at my desk again.
And every day, I feel like I accomplish quite a lot. I know I do a decent amount- I have the work to prove it. Every day, I do something productive, because if this is the new life, I’ll continue living it well. But then again- on some days, I could have written thousands of words, yet I will go to sleep feeling like I did nothing at all. Or I wouldn’t have done anything, but I’ll feel wholly satisfied.
Like this, it goes by in a flash- if I close my eyes, I think I can wake up in the next decade. Time runs past my slow-paced stroll. And despite this, in an inexplicable contradiction, the days seem to last for years. Confusing, maybe. Relatable, maybe- maybe not. But that is me, and my mind and my year. I do the same things and different things- the same things in different ways. Experience flashes of feelings as well as steady, unchanging emotions.
My alarm still rings in the morning, the same alarm I’ve had for years. Once I switch it off, I do not get up immediately.
I have things to do, but I don’t have places to be anymore. My alarm is still early- I will sleep some more, through the minutes I used to spend in the car. That’s okay, I think. I do not need to spend every spare second on my feet. I have work, and I am doing it. I do it well and I do it on time. It’s okay if I choose to sleep for an extra half an hour.
This is drastically different from my old mindset. It doesn’t have to be a good change or a bad one. It doesn’t have to be anything but a simple change.
I close my eyes for five more minutes.
The month is June, the year is 2021.
Excellent! Beautifully captured the trance state of mind many are in during the pandemic.
Wonderful capture of life as we face this pandemic, positive, pensive, resilient and moving forward. Very well expressed and written, Anjana. Love the picture as well for it represents the extremes in one frame. 👍