The Deus Ex Machina of 2020 

  Illustration Credits: Tracy J. Lee

THE pandemic was bad news when it dropped in our mailboxes. A news, so out of the ordinary, that many of us did not even believe it could possibly be true.

Why would we? Most of our self fashioning had digitised our brains into thinking that ours was a millennial of the unstoppable. In our heads, certainly, a calamity of this proportion wouldn’t have been missed by an age of awareness. Surely, with the right-wing running their regimes of roughness; who would have thought that in a godless reign, a deus ex machina would knock our doors and puncture our infallibility?

For the world, the pandemic was a divine jest pulled at the cost of the idiosyncrasies our age. An age which had us all put blinkers on and dream its dream. When we stopped with an uncertainty so grandiose that  hope would come only to the religious or else the unwise; we had no option but to look back and find ourselves far away from things that truly matter.

Cautiously, I must tread this narrative, cautiously! For it may just be a sisyphean reasoning to take any meaning out of the madness.

The loss. In the disbelief that persists till date, we lost those who came closest to the reality of a deadly infection. Fighters. We all lived as we fought the virus with resilience. Those we lost were our comrades in this war. The martyrs. We must remember them and we will.

In this year, closeted in our homes and hidden behind our masks; we had truths coming out, clear and prominent. The Governments and the Superpowers. We came face to face with the reality that all these years of progress were anything but equitable or egalitarian. Our healthcare was embarrassing. Our politics was partisan. Our prejudices were deadly.

Yet, values shone through. Our resilience and resistance was spellbinding. To my generation which grew up reading Harry Potter, this was the scene of the final fight. Nothing but sheer love, care, kindness, righteousness and selfness saved the day, when it did.

This was also the year, when the glitter and the glamour lifted off. We could finally see the damage that our privileges have done over the years and even the privileges that have missed so many of us. For once, we looked behind and not ahead. We saw people taking one step at a time to survive. Deprivation was the ordeal when all stopped. The deserted streets were screaming back at us with the bodies that we had possibly crushed by a verbose nonchalance of “success”, “wealth” and “comfort”.

Now, we’ve all collectively witnessed the grotesque reality of life. It missed no one. There are some still protected by their privilege but none can now claim ignorance. We have all come closest to knowing what is truly valuable. The mirage will soon cover the world yet again, the only path ahead will seem to be the path alone and the path towards some unattainable idea of fulfilment.

But what our future needs is quite clear, atleast to the ones who lost or had the heart to see the world with honesty. Wellbeing, happiness and success should never be defined by an age. It is a timeless feeling that requires something intrinsic yet collective. Going forward, we must be winners in wisdom. You can achieve anything and everything that the world has to offer materially. But would you really be rich?

Castles, though big, are often empty and lonely. They always open in streets and alleyways filled with the poor. Don’t let your life be this castle.

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Tooba Towfiq

Tooba Towfiq is the Opinion Editor at Kashmir Observer. She tweets at tooba_tweets

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