Someone asked me the other night what I saw myself accomplishing in five years from now. Late night, you know, when conversations don't really subscribe to your well-defined boundaries of right and wrong and proper or improper. I thought for a while and then blurted out: I'm lost.
2020, truly, has been the year we lost ourselves.
All of us usually live out our lives measured in the daily teaspoons of sugar and the occasional escape from the mundane; the quotidian. That was life for me too. Wake up, get dressed for work, read a few pages of a book on the cab ride to the office, punch in, and enter a different world. Our workplaces provided a sanctuary that the home never could. The workplace was pride. The home is where I came to sleep. The workplace, as in the real glass-and-steel building and not this imaginary idea of a workstation that you bring to bed, go to sleep with and wake up next to.
2020 has been the year we lost ourselves. (Photo: Author)
First came the laptop. The first few weeks, the laptop got its own table and chair: a proper WFH workstation. The term 'WFH' sounded new to our office-home-office ears. It had the ring of a novelty; a certain coolth that perhaps our plain desks and chairs and cubicles in the office could never come to be associated with.
A month into WFH, the laptop got into bed with me on a morning when the clouds looked menacing and the threat of seasonable rain loomed large. Unreasonable, I reasoned. It's only for today, the inner voice spat back. The laptop stayed in bed. A bed table got added to cart and the bed just, somehow, stopped being the place which meant rest, sleep, reading a book, you name it. The line between work and time off blurred.
A backache appeared on the horizon soon after. A stray tweet I came across asked the 'banana-shaped f**k' of a reader to straighten up. The voluntary muscles kicked in and sitting straight happened. Only to return to its slouchy, more comfortable position.
The first few weeks, the laptop got its own table and chair: a proper WFH workstation. (Photo: Author)
This year has taken away everything we thought important, our ideas of big and small, grave and trivial. 2020 made a sticky mess out of all our dreams, achievements, plans, hopes and thoughts for a 'future'.
For me, the real blow came riding on two realisations: I couldn't drive, and hailing a cab off an app was too risky. So I stopped going out. The second, and more visceral realisation was that the world was shut. The passport had to be tucked away, the travel apps had to make way for grocery and medicine deliveries, and life, somewhere, ebbed away into a black hole. 2020 closed its jaws shut on everything.
We have made it to December. The last month of a year. The month we sing an elegy to another year. The month that heralds the beginning of a new year and comes pregnant with hope. But even this December is different from others, in the caution and apprehension that it has brought along. Will 2021 really be better than 2020? Will we finally restart our lives, one day out at a time? When can we drop the mask?
We will look back on this year in the days and months to come. We will pat ourselves on the back for having made it through the numerous mazes of mental health problems where even one step off the rails screams red. We will go back to the restaurants and pubs and pretend everything is back to normal and call it the new normal.
But this year, distilled, crystallised, is lost. With it, a part of us too.