It was after lunch on that November day last year. I was at my desk struggling to complete some paperwork – the least favourite part at work – and sighing away and thinking of all the better things I could be doing, when I heard it.
It was so soft that it barely registered. But I still looked up and around, but could not find the source. I gave myself a stern talking to for imagining things and getting distracted and told myself to get back to the task at hand. That’s when I heard it again.
This time it was louder and when I looked up it was to see a cat standing on a chair and peering over the table at me with the most curious expression.
I think I can begin this post by stating that 2020 was not the year that everyone, and I mean everyone, planned, hoped or dreamed for. It was a year that started innocently and quietly enough for most, and then escalated quickly into something that no one was prepared for, and I mean no one. In the blink of an eye or rather overnight, the Lockdown changed everything. Suddenly 2020 was not just another year. For me or for anyone else.
The first few days of the Lockdown felt like an unexpected and welcome holiday. But that changed as the realities of the Lockdown set in as the days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I don’t even think I can articulate fully the claustrophobia, the despair or the daily challenges of forced isolation.
But what I can do is to highlight one or two events of each month of the year that was 2020 and share them with you here. Everyone had a year like no other and this is mine.
There is a black door in my office that I usually use as a chalk board to keep track of schedules, upcoming projects, etc. at work. But in the last few weeks, it has turned into a board that lists words, terms and phrases I have come across while editing or reading documents as part of work, or have been contributed by colleagues. All these words, terms and phrases are new to me and while I understand some (or at least I think I do !), most have left me baffled. For example, “affordance”, “unlived experience”, “hedonistic sustainability”, “unstickiness of pedagogical structures”, among many others.
Every morning, when I arrive at work, I look at this ever-growing list. I puzzle over the words, brood over them, look them up in the dictionary to make sense of them. Sometimes, I discuss these words with colleagues in an attempt to understand them. Sometimes, I try using them in sentences to see if they work. And sometimes, I give up on them.
The title of this blog post pretty much summarises what 2018 was for me.
My Amma passed away in February 2018 and life as I knew it to be changed forever. Nearly a year later, I am still grappling with the changes her loss brought me. From returning to an empty home every evening to greedy neighbours slyly asking me when I would be selling the house and moving in with one of my brothers to everything in between — it has been a difficult year. There are times when the grief has been so overwhelming that I have been unable to speak; there have also been days times when I have sailed through without any issues. There have been good days and there have been not-so-good days and each day has taught lessons — big and small — to cope and move ahead.
One of the biggest lessons (and challenges) for me has been on letting go. Some were easy to let go, some happened naturally and some were difficult to let go, like The Sunday Book Club or #TSBC. A twitter-based book chat, I had co-founded #TSBC in 2012 and had been a part of it since then. But for the last year and so, I hadn’t been active on or contributed to #TSBC due to work commitments initially and later due to Amma’s illness. I had thought that I would be able to pick up after her passing passed away, but that didn’t happen and that’s when I knew that I had to let go. I quit #TSBC in September 2018, and though I miss #TSBC terribly, the enormous sense of relief at letting go far outweighs difficult and painful decision of quitting #TSBC.
… later, I begin with a confession — I almost didn’t write this 8th anniversary post.
Reason? I have hardly blogged this past year managing only 18 posts, 11 of which were written in the months of June and July 2017 and the remaining 7 spread out over the remaining 10 months.
For this reason alone, I didn’t feel that my 8th blog anniversary deserved the usual blog post to mark this milestone. The blog anniversary (June 2) came and went, but I couldn’t ignore the niggling thought that maybe, I should reconsider writing that anniversary post. After all, while the blog anniversary was a milestone or the ‘destination’, the posts were always about the journey to that destination, and it was important to record that journey. So I finally got down to writing the blog anniversary post, and here I am with it, albeit 10 days late.
To be honest, this post is less about the blog and blogging or the reasons why I didn’t blog or wasn’t able to blog (actually, I was writing blog posts; I was just not publishing them). This is more about what I did this year some of which will get written about eventually here !
I have never waited as much for a year to begin as I did for you.
I have never waited as much for a year to end as I have done for you.
Dear 2017, you were not what I wanted or expected you to be. Everything that I hoped to go right passed me by and everything that had to go wrong stayed right back with me. Tragic deaths of friends, illness in the family, health scares, and more shook up my life as I know it. In other words, you epitomised my favourite quote.
Just when I knew all the answers to life’s questions, the questions changed. ~ Anonymous
And in all the disappointments, unhappiness, turbulence and heartbreak that you brought with you this year, you imparted valuable lessons. Lessons that were sometimes gentle and subtle, sometimes rammed down my throat, and sometimes delivered with a rap on my knuckles.
As your year comes to an end (and I can’t wait to bid you goodbye !), I want to sum up what you were for me with a focus on the important lessons you taught, rather than on all the negative things you brought.