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All day today, I’ve been witness to devastation. The super cyclone that tore through parts of India uprooting massive trees, breaking down homes and shops for a population already reeling under Covid lockdowns has left so many of my friends without electricity or connectivity. Thousands upon thousands of the poorest tribals, village dwellers, fishermen have lost their homes and livelihood.
India also has a surging pandemic. Forest fires. Locusts. What’s next, 2020? Zombies? Aliens?
Whoever is writing the script for 2020 needs to be handed his or her papers, stat. We’ve always had one thing or the other, but not everything and it’s second cousin’s grandma all piled together. Blogging about it makes me ill, and that’s just the trauma of witnessing suffering. Not able to imagine those who are really going through it–walking hundreds of miles baking under the hot sun, or watching years of their labour carried away by a cyclone..
In far-away Singapore, in my cosy den, I’m at my laptop trying to send out social media posts, doing calls across Mumbai, Chicago, Kolkata, London, and other cities in between to find help. I’m part of a group of strangers, blogging and writing folk, non-profits and tech-wizards and marketing gurus, who have come together for the sake of humanity.
In all the misery, I’ve seen scattered acts of kindness. Students mobilising to feed the labourers who have been rendered migrants in their own countries. Men and women rushing from the cities to the forests of Sunderban to offer help to villagers whose homes have literally been blown away in the wind. Housewives are looking through their cupboards for clothes and other items to donate.
I’m trying to work (unsuccessfully) on my WIP, and of course, like all of us in these crazy times, just survive this surreal nightmare. Blogging seems to have taken a back seat.
It is past midnight and absolutely pouring outside. Rains like this are not frequent at this time of the year in Singapore, but oh well. It is certainly not the strangest thing to happen in 2020.
Frail elderly couple arrived at the table next to mine at the food court.
She sank into the seat while he left to get food. Minutes later, he arrived, carrying with shaky hands a piled plate, two cups of tea in a tray, plonked it down, spilling the tea a little. She gave him a smile, like he’d come home from war.
Midway into eating he sneezed, and she dug out a tissue from her handbag and wiped his hand.
Throughout, they kept pushing the pieces of meat at each other with chopsticks. The pile of food disappeared over a few minutes, then they sat drinking tea, sighing, the gentleman peering into my laptop, pretending not to. He reported to her he couldn’t understand a word of what I wrote. He probably thought my headphones meant I couldn’t hear him.
They left, holding hands, helping each other out, walking out the food court on unsteady feet. I don’t know if we understand the true meaning of love or companionship until we age.
Snippets of another time, another life when we didn’t wear masks unless we were doctors at surgery, when the elderly could roam about in crowds without fear.
How about you? How are things like where you are? Have you been blogging lately? Do you sometimes wonder whether we might be approaching the end of days?
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is available in India here.