“One more drive through Bangalore’s emptied roads. One more visit to the hospital. And this time, I hope not to go back again for a long, long, long time.” That. That is what I wrote in my last blog post.
We make wishes, we spin our thoughts on the fragile whispers of tomorrows, and hope, pray, cajole the world into making those wishes true. But sometimes, life moves you through in dark, precious ways, on paths you never wanted to go, but which you are thrust into anyway.
I did make another visit to the hospital in May, taking my Dad this time as he struggled with Covid pneumonia. Eight days later, I drove yet again, picking him back from the hospital as he slowly recovered. A day later, I woke up to a thump, a thud, a sound that isn’t a sound but a horror. I rushed to my Dad’s room. It’s 3:47 am. There is my Dad, all of those 85 years colliding at that moment, lying on the floor. I try hard to unsee that image of my father on the floor, blood lightly seeping from his head through to the floor, and I can’t.
Our life is sometimes a wish, a prayer, a caress, and a kiss.
Tread lightly, for you tread on its wings.
And I do. I have always trembled at life’s fragile gossamer web, spun ever so lightly around us. I have already feared its cousin, Time, marching over my bones. But I have never seen life thrust its mortality in my face the way it has over these last two months.
As my Dad slowly recovered, I lost my words. After 6 weeks of immeasurable anxiety, I caved in to the vacuous empty state of my mind. I wanted to write. I tried to write. Yet, my mind continued to evade control. I would flip tabs aimlessly. I barely worked. I had no focus. Brain fog, knowledgeable folks told me. I nodded. Maybe. Anxiety said some others. I nodded. Stress noted some other folks. I nodded to all of them.
Have I been shaken? Yes. Stirred? Yes. I have been tested emotionally, physically, and financially. If I could describe myself as a drink, I am a cocktail. There’s some spirit, some old fruits of the past, a little bit of sugar I try to think is kindness, residual flavors of despair in the bitters, and a herb or two of resilience.
I “interviewed” a lovely young woman for Deccan Herald before this onslaught hit me, and there was something she told me about resilience that hit me hard:
“I don’t know where I find resilience, honestly. Some days I find it; some days, I don’t. It looks different each day. Some days, it looks like scrolling through memes, some days lying in bed and wondering what life on Jupiter might look like, and some days brewing extra tea and working harder.”
My resilience is something I hadn’t questioned until now. Life happens. You just go on, I thought. I always thought I was one step away from knocking on a coffin’s dark wooden lid. I have realized I am not one step away. I am knocking on that wood.
But while I knock, I can live.
These last few weeks have shown me that our truest self is not a guiding light but a shimmering wounded mess. Our hearts are chicken feathers, trussed up to masquerade as strong and beating.
I have learned there is a pause between our harmful intent and our actions. That pause is resilience. I have learned there is a pause between life and death. That pause is living. I have learned there is a pause between hurt and action. That pause is kindness. I have learned there is a pause between every moment. That pause is breath, our resilience, our hope fluttering in the wings of every damaged cell, telling us that we are worth the pain, that life is worth the mess, and that somehow, we can and will be resilient. Not because we make it through, but because we are simply being us.
And I may make endless cups of tea. I may struggle to concentrate for longer than 15 minutes. I may give my ears to a desperate friend’s voice. I may sleep through the day. But whatever that resilience looks like, I want to tell you, it’s you. It’s us.
So, however difficult it seems, I promise to write, to coax words, and to be here in whatever ways I can. And however difficult it is, I want to tell you the same: that you will find the immeasurable strength to summon that beating heart and whisper that you will continue to live – gorgeously, plainly, spectacularly, underwhelmingly – but oh god, you will live.
My love and light to all of you.
PS: For those who have been asking after me, my gratitude. My mom, Susheela, my Dad, and my sister (she also tested positive) are doing better now. I am back to running and working out. My mind, though, will take its time to heal.