A year we must not forget

Posted by Vishü Rita Krocha, Kohima, Nagaland

These empty streets
that once carried wishes
dreams and scattered hearts
we travelled these roads
without taking chances
we followed, and
we grew into things
that made these streets alive
we knew every turn,
every name, sign and colour
but that was when the world was open
free for anyone to take the roads
now the streets are dead
filled with an eerie silence
will they ever come alive again?
or if it does, would it ever be the same again?

(written when the total COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in the state)

Looking back, the year 2020 has not been easy for any of us. It cast a dark shadow in the lives of everyone. It robbed us of many joys and small delightful things we perhaps once took for granted. Of companionship, the joys of eating together, of livelihoods, of that physical human connection that nothing will ever replace.

We have lost many things to the pandemic. A year that we must not forget, but look back on with gratitude, especially those of us who have survived it. No, it’s not over yet, but if we have come this far, then it must really count for something.

Going back to February 2020, I was looking forward to a literature festival in a neighbouring state, making travel plans and feeling pretty excited about it. But then, the reality of COVID-19 hit home and as I realised eventually, things were never going to be the same again.

Many young people working outside also started returning home. If I saw a good thing here, then it was about some of them going back to their roots. To till the lands in the villages that have been left abandoned for several years. The pandemic revived the age-old tradition of farming during the period of lockdown. And as much as my heart went into writing a newspaper story about it, I just had to translate it into a verse—

The earth waited,
longing for the touch
of hands that served
in faraway places; in cities
that don’t recognize
their names nor the sweat
of their brows on a scorching
Summer day; and
for years and years
nothing had grown
in these fertile lands,
they just waited
under the open skies
feeling the rain, the sun
the wind, but not the love
of the hands that had long
grown rich crops
but one day, the world
started falling apart
and all they could do
was return where they belong;
the future was uncertain
but the fields were happy
the farmers have come back home.

Then, there were days my mother and I sat around the kitchen and talked about the pandemic. Honestly, what else was there to talk about when somehow, everything is reeling under its impact? During one of those conversations, something she said really got me thinking, as a result of which, this verse came into being—

Mother says
in these trying times
it is the saddest thing
that your loved ones
won’t be able to hold your hands
or glimpse at you
while you battle for dear life
in some isolated place
and all you can do
is say a prayer; the fabric
of your heart, stained with
indescribable pain.

Much closer home, I came across a photograph that gave me a deep sense of sadness. It was of a young returnee who was being quarantined, grieving over the loss of his father—just being given 5 minutes to bid farewell before he is taken back to the quarantine centre. Even as a journalist scripting stories over the last decade, I have to admit that a larger portion of my heart went into writing this particular report.

If I closely look at it now, I think the year 2020 has been one of the busiest years I can recall both in terms of writing and publishing books. And I am grateful for it because many people around the world have lost their jobs during the time of the pandemic but I’ve had the good fortune of still having something worthwhile to pursue, most of which involves writing.

The lockdown period has also taught me valuable things. It is ironic to say that 2020 has been good to me, but it really has been. I have been able to write probably more than I did any other year. And if there is one thing that the pandemic as a whole has taught me, then it is the resilient spirit of human beings. That, when the situation demands it, we will persevere. Listening to stories of people from different walks of life and scripting them in the past one year has been revealing of that strong spirit of resilience and I thought it was beautiful to carry on amidst the crisis that the world over continues to face.

It’s difficult to say what the future holds. But then again, was it ever certain? As for me, the coming of Spring always signals hope and I know with firm conviction that someday soon, this will be all over. That, we will get through this, together.

Will I ever see you again?
Will there be another day,
another time, another sunset,
beckoning us from beyond the hills
like that April evening
if you remember-
we stood on a windswept hill
watching the sun dip below the horizon
there was life sprouting everywhere
and I thought we could start
life, all over again.

Vishü Rita Krocha is a poet, author and journalist with over 10 years of experience. She is the author of “A bucket of Rain”, “Shoposho” (A Naga folktale Children’s Book), “Yearnings” and co-author of several other books including “Echoes of Spring”.   

She previously worked as a newspaper columnist and correspondent for a Nagaland based English daily for over 5 years. In November 2013, she founded PenThrill, a small home based publication house and currently also writes for The Morung Express. Her short story “Cut Off” also appeared in the Zubaan Publication— “The Many That I Am”

Cover image: Author
Story images: Author

Standard Disclaimer : The story contributors are responsible for all views and facts provided in their posts. Lockdown Voices and its editorial team is not accountable for the accuracy of the information posted.

2 thoughts on “A year we must not forget

Add yours

  1. Hope indeed! Spring is here and life’s limping back to normal. A new normal perhaps, where we will be mindful of our environs and value relationships and learn to be grateful. Nice write-up!

    Liked by 1 person

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