Life and thoughts under the Pandemic

We grapple on, from our homes and the frontlines with this invisible (more on this later) yet deadly threat amidst us. In this scenario, I was asked to put pen on paper and write the next newsletter to the members, friends and well-wishers of our South Asian Community– to capture some of the emotions and feelings that we are going through. And, to solicit support for our charitable endeavour for the Food Bank by letting your latent talents and artistic gems rise to the fore by participating in our interesting Art and Talent Contest.

The words that we use to describe this current global challenge are woefully inadequate: invisible – hardly so, it has left in its wake crying and suffering people; unprecedented – how can we have forgotten the Spanish flu of the last century; bizarre,  disturbing, shocking, terrifying are similarly insufficient to capture the blow it has dealt to different levels of society. I just have to think about my graduating students who face an uncertain employment market and the South West that we live in, so reliant on tourism and hospitality, facing a sunny summer with lock-down and social distancing.

Now more than ever before, we need to stand and support one another and be pro-active in our own ways in lending that helping hand. Find details of the Food Bank and how your generous donation will help people across the city.

The Thursday clapping has turned our thoughts collectively to those who are on the frontlines of this battle. We acknowledge and applaud the appreciable work the doctors/nurses/health care professionals wage on the frontlines. Our thoughts turn as one to the hospitals pushed to their limits, the toiling supermarket employees working to keep the essentials flowing, country after country on its knees fighting this silent lurking virus on a warpath.

You don’t need to open the television or hear the news to realise how people are suffering. The people who have run out of money or business, who are relying on food banks more than ever. Then there are those too tired to do their shopping after a long day at work or even too tired to eat – working long shifts at the hospital, care home or ensuring other essential services go on uninterrupted. It is painfully sad to hear of the death of health care workers – so many from our communities are on the frontline. Thursdays evenings are a day to look forward to – a small but mighty expression of solidarity and appreciation for those on the frontlines of this war. I have seen people come out with cymbals and bells and the good ole pot and spoon!

Last night we opened our front door and stood on the doorstep and clapped. Our claps resounded up and down the street and I could hear horns blaring and a few crackers blasting off around the city. The neighbours were out in full force – we were acknowledging and applauding everyone who works in the NHS, the carers whom we rely on when we are sick, those on whom we turn to in our illness and for our essential services. Who is looking after them, I wonder?? Who is making sure that their needs and their safety is a priority?    

When will we appreciate the fundamental interdependence of our existence in this world? We are so reliant on the health system and on the retail and care sectors, the refuse and bin collectors, and others like them. Most often we take them for granted. At least by opening our doors and coming out we recognise the intrinsic connections between ourselves and those you look after us when we are vulnerable.

I hope and pray that this enemy does not come knocking on my door and, if it does rear its head, we shall be ready to fight it tooth and nail like so many before us have and after us will. The things that distinguished our days—commuting to work, dropping our kids to school, discussing work issues over coffee with colleagues, bumping into people in the printer room—has been put on hold, time tends to take on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structures, our days can feel a little untethered, our lives a little hinged. But the human spirit in each of us is there, creative, enterprising, full of resources and ideas; the sun is shining, and the birds are singing, and we shall together prevail.

Or, as Rumi has expressed so eloquently:

“Be patient where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.”

More from me next time.

Stay safe, stay home, stay curious and stay well! 

Smita Tripathi

Editor, SAaS Newsletter and Trustee