NYE2021: Adieu 2020 with fleeting moments of joy

Dubai - The sun’s set on 2020 and whilst a change in the leaf of the calendar does not suggest merriness, the sunrise of 2021 has left me intoxicated with hope for the future, and gratitude for the tiny and big things that happened in 2020

by Purva Grover

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Published: Thu 31 Dec 2020, 8:11 AM

End-of-the-year tales are always a tough act to pen, even if you are passionate about storytelling. How do you tell the 2020 tale?

As an author, I too like the idea of tales that have happy endings. But then, how do you find ‘and they lived happily ever after’ in a year where a virulent disease held sway and transience of life grabbed global headlines? You don’t, at least not on the surface.

So, you scavenge. You act desperate, ruthless even, as you lift each morsel, which was consumed in the 365 days gone by. You closely evaluate the moments that you were compelled to live through, and then lay out the dinner table, with a selection of the merry appetisers, the happy main courses, and the sweetest desserts. You get brickbats and face the risk of being labelled a romantic fool, the privileged, and even the heartless — for, who in the right mind would reinvite themselves to taste 2020, all over again, and suggest that ‘it was not that bad, after all’? Yes, you wouldn’t. For, at the risk of repeating what you already know, a lot, okay, everything, was against us in 2020. We’ll skip the details, purely for there’s no euphemism for pain, loss and suffering, and irrespective of what words I use to sugarcoat the rise in the number of unemployed, funerals held in isolation, the helplessness of caged-in children, … I’d fail miserably.

That’s not what I’d like to start my New Year with — failure. And neither should you.

So yes, factually speaking what we thought would last for days, turned into weeks, and months, and soon, the lethal novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) had wiped out the entire year. And here we are today, hesitantly welcoming 2021.

2020 kept us on our toes; over occupied and exhausted, as we spent hours ducking to save ourselves and our loved ones from the year that was. Does that mean the year that went by doesn’t count? No. The year 2020 does count, and not just for we survived it, but also for as we suffered, we managed to smile too. For, that’s what forms the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the human spirit. The sun has set on 2020 and whilst a change in the leaf of the calendar does not always suggest merriness, the sunrise of 2021 has left me intoxicated, as hope springs eternal for the future, and gratitude for the tiniest and the momentous events that occurred in 2020.

I’ll start with a little ‘did you know’ just to get you on the same page of this tale — in the dog fights held in the 19th century, two dogs would attack each other, the one who lost was termed as the underdog, and the winner, of course, was the top dog. So, to get things straight, Covid-19 is the top dog here, and since someone has to root for the underdog, 2020, I have decided to, with the hope of roping you all in, as well.

Give me a minute here, as I hit rewind and gather my emotions during the lockdown, where the scenes outside my window were made up of ‘empty’ parks, where no kids played or swings made the squeaky sound and also that of ‘fully-packed’ parking lots, as the movement came to a pause and we all worked from home; but then in between all this, I did spot angels spraying magic potions on the streets, as they sanitised the paths for us to play and drive on. And instead of looking outside, if you allow me another minute, I’d take a moment to revisit the turmoil in the heart as well, where the scenes were made up of moments where mosques stayed empty, with prayer mats waiting for the worshippers to return (and they did) and where my neighbours from different nationalities stayed tucked in homes, but said similar prayers of strength and safety behind their doors, albeit in different languages; but then in between all this, you and I enjoyed the liberty to make our voice heard, in this land that we all call home, as we stood in our balconies and expressed our gratitude and hope.

Now, take a deep breath, and hear me out when I say, we did witness some good stuff in the year gone by. From women leaders emerging on top and redefining leadership to top-notch musicians performing without charging a fee, from fathers-daughters duo dressing up in fairytale attires to throw the trash to volunteers picking up groceries for senior citizens, from scientists and medics responding with speed, alacrity and a common purpose to delivery boys, supermarket staff, cleaners, etc. attending to their call of duty, from carbon emissions falling by a record seven per cent to skies turning a clearer shade of blue, from individuals connecting with self to Zoom birthday parties, from people showing up to make their voices heard to casting their vote when it mattered… humanity, strength and community found a new meaning and direction.

Closer home in the UAE, on one hand, an individual (cleaner) drew a heart out on the pavement with twigs and won everyone’s hearts and on the other, thousands of families got together and sponsored groceries for the needy — the reasons to smile were many. And the good vibes spread from the ground and beyond — we sent aid to countries in need and our astronauts went to space. And yes, the biggest good news of 2020 was how we saved millions of lives, and will continue to!

Now, I can get into names, ages and nationalities of those, who spread the magic dust on 2020, but then goodness is best consumed sans filters and labels. So, let’s leave it at just that. But if one was to draw out elaborate listicles of heroes, missions, campaigns, and deeds, the ‘good’ 2020 story indeed would run into pages.

But then let’s not complicate happiness. We could all simply run through the diary (or Instagram feed, if you wish) we scribbled into, and identify what brought us joy. For babies were born, love was sealed; for WFH (work from home) got us closer, neighbours put up concerts (from balconies); for children sailed through a year without meeting up with their friends, educators ensured a year of schooling was not lost; for cakes were baked and Dalgona coffee was whipped up, for domestic chores were shared sans gender bias… for, in the end, every tear that was shed, louder applause held out hope for a life saved. Not all was lost — we put up a good fight, and it is never too late to make note of the wins — small or big. Well, call me a die-hard optimistic or a romantic realist, who believes that we do end up finding a way to move on, be it out of lack of choice or compulsion, but we do. To quote American poet Robert Frost, when he was asked to sum up everything that he had learnt about life, he said, “It goes on.” And, so do we.

So again, how do you tell the story of 2020? You don’t just tell it, you relive it by focusing on what made it to the pages, but the footnotes and sidebars. For, when you decide to run a search for the good things, the results that show up are bountiful and invaluable. Until we meet next, hold on to them, and gear up to write a new tale, the good of 2021…


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Purva Grover

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