For everything that went wrong in 2020, 2020 got blamed like all other factors were inconsequential, even if the pandemic began in 2019 and even if the pandemic would have at best remained an epidemic in China had Tedros Adhanom not been so keen on pleasing those who got him his job at WHO. Tedros was blamed, but 2020 continues to be blamed.
When a big tree falls, the earth may not shake but you got to find the feller. You must pin the blame somewhere lest the pin pricks you. Pinning blame gives a reassurance that if this one factor is pinned down, the rest will fall in place. Case in point: the belief that when 2020 ends, things are going to be brighter and shinier and glossier.
2020 was a reminder of life in three words – expect the unexpected. (Photo: Getty Images)
So as we plan to bid goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021, here’s some news: 2020 cares as much about going as 2021 about coming. It is we who want to assign meanings because what is a thing without meaning? Just that thing – no meaning. Glass half filled, glass half empty? No, just the glass – filled, or emptied, or both filled and emptied – the glass nevertheless.
Push yourself down the memory lane, let yourself tumble. Which was the year no celebrities died and no era ended? Also, when did the loss of a celebrity become so personal that we began rating the year based on celebrity death count? Blame the piece for being insensitive to celebrity deaths and take some blame for being insensitive to 2020.
Yes, people died suddenly. But were sudden deaths unique to 2020? A total of 1,51,113 people were killed in 4,80,652 road accidents across India in 2019, an average of 414 a day or 17 an hour. What’s more sudden than an accident? Heart attack.
The suddenness of a heart attack is sometimes so sudden that people pass away in their sleep. One of every four deaths in India in 2019, about 1.7 million, reportedly happened due to sudden heart attacks. That figure is projected to rise to 2.3 crore by 2030.
So 2019, to 2020, to 2030, the one constant is that death will mostly be sudden.
The complaint in 2020 is that it forced us to sit at home. In years preceding 2020, the complaint was that there is never enough time to do things. One perennial constant - complaint.
We complain when we feel powerless ahead of situations. The calendar year is so powerless it can’t even complain. So powerless that a whole calendar was replaced because it was delaying Easter with each passing year and the calendar could do nothing to stop its change. Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar but the emperor miscalculated the length of the solar year by 11 minutes. In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII replaced Julian calendar with Gregorian calendar because the 11-minute miscalculation made the Julian calendar fall out of sync with seasons. Easter, which was then traditionally observed on March 21, began to shift because of this.
Seasons and seasonal occurrences are fast getting out of sync with our current calendars because of global warming. The humble calendar just hangs on the wall or sits atop tables with beautiful bodies and picturesque valleys and villages, least knowing it is being faulted for floods, cyclones, epidemics, endemics and pandemics.
If anything, 2020 was a reminder of life in three words – expect the unexpected. Though 2020 had no intention of issuing such a reminder because years can have no intention. They can have no motives. So, they should have no blame either.
Life, which is counted by the years it survives, is a mixed bag of good experiences and bad. What our bag carries is mostly not our doing even though self-help books will tell us life is what you make of it. Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
2020 was a mixed bag like all other bags. People lived, loved, laughed. People also broke up, cried, and died. That is the nature of life; not of a year.
‘The fault, was not in 2020, but in the bats.’