Friday, May 31, 2024

Time to heal

There is no doubt that the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have left behind scars and lessons that need to be learnt. Many lost their livelihood and many others suffered loss to their businesses. It also impacted health of almost every individual. And with this cost that we collectively paid it is imperative that we learn the lesson; both at individual level and collectively as a society as a system; both at social level and also at administrative level. Before this pandemic, we probably would not have imagined that the busiest thoroughfares in our locales would be deserted; schools and colleges would remain closed for an entire academic session(s), in-person gatherings would be repealed, etc. We would instinctively want to be close to our family and friends in times of existential danger, to hold their hands and embrace them – but were forbidden to do so, for any act of physical contact might cause illness and death! Such was the scare at the outset of the crisis. The initial weeks of the lockdown brought many of us to the edge of panic and despair. Of course, those were very trying times, and some suffered mightily. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated to us the value of freedom – the freedom to move, to be with those we love – for ourselves and for those around us. Yes, forced into our own homes with just our immediate families, we quickly learned what is truly important in life, rest everything else is really secondary. When daily rituals and routines we’ve always taken for granted got disrupted, it lent us a new sense of appreciation for the small things in life. We got to know the importance of visiting outdoors and cherishing outdoor activities, including sporting events. Before the coronavirus, many of us had taken human interaction for granted. Spending time with our immediate loved ones now, however, has taken centre stage. Despite the frustrations of daily confinement, the true importance of our family and friends got unfurled. In fact people during the pandemic realized the importance of human connection and realized they need it. Fortunately the pandemic appears to be out of sight, at least in our part of the world for now. There is no COVID-19 active case in the state for some days now. No patients are admitted in hospitals for this viral disease here. No people have died in many days due to it. This is for the first time in two years. This is a spring that can be celebrated, the first time since 2019. Indeed over the past two years, the word ‘socialize’ became a sinister word. A gathering was looked upon at with contempt and shock. Visits to relatives, friends and neighbours declined and in some cases ceased completely. This had a tremendous bearing on the social fabric and mental health of people, especially those who do not work outside the homes. Confinement to homes, of children and elderly, has put strain over the mental health of the people, and overall of the society. With the chances of contracting the viral infection at an all time low in the past two years, this is the time to make up for the lost contacts and rediscover the neighbourhood, rekindle the lost relations, regroup the social circles around markets and parks. Socialize, mix up, talk. The mental health of people has also suffered a jolt over the past years due to the loss of economic activities. The hotels, restaurants, taxis, handicrafts, event managers, singers, sellers of all goods and consumables, they all suffered. It is time that everyone is given a chance to earn. Education sectors, sports, schools and stadiums, these have started to buzz again with activities of people, young people. These young people have suffered the most during the past two years with the confinement and the online classes that were thrust upon them. Now the addiction to gadgets and the constant taunts for this addiction need to go. The world outside, the play fields, the sunshine and the spring are waiting for people. Let us breathe. The masks can stay for crowds but the air is now inviting people. Much has been lost in the past two years in the pandemic. Time to heal and thank the Almighty for all that has not been lost.