It has always been hard for me to ‘wait’. Patience is a virtue I did not inherit from my mother or work upon and develop over time. I often told myself that I’m now too old to change or foster new qualities. Today, however, I am left with no choice but to focus on this virtue for my emotional and mental wellbeing.
The pandemic has united the world with a feeling of ‘waiting’—a wait for life to get back to normalcy or some semblance of normalcy; a wait for loved ones down with the illness to recover; a wait for medical help. Time seems to have slowed down. With nothing else to do, we wait—for a more equitable world, where no one dies in want. We wait to see children playing in the neighbourhood, giggling and making merry; we wait to see the elderly get together every evening in the society parks to share their daily lives; we wait to come back home after a day’s work and hug our kids without fear like we wait for sunshine after a deadly storm. Wait we must for things that are worth waiting for, and a normal life is what every soul on this planet is craving for. It’s something worth waiting for.
I, like so many others, wait for the train of my life’s journey to get back on track. While I rejoice that I still have the ticket to travel on this train, I am pained by what is happening to my co-passengers—colleagues, relatives, friends, and strangers. While I am fortunate that I have not personally experienced loss, I am filled with grief when I hear and read about the losses of many known and many more unknown.
Many of us may also have experienced this sort of grief, a feeling of personal loss, a sense that it could have been different, it should not have ended like this. Though one realises that we all die some day, one does not want them to go like this—without an adieu to their loved ones, without a proper send-off, and so early in their lives leaving behind unfulfilled responsibilities and dreams. This is certainly not what one wishes to see.
Lives lost have been reduced to numbers floating around and graphs showing upward and downward trajectories. Each number there was beloved of someone who was making all efforts to see them through this illness, someone who will spend a long time in grief that enough could not be done to save them.
The waiting for the tide to turn on the virus is an opportunity to observe and absorb. This is the best time to close your eyes and meditate, be patient and wait for the light at the end of the tunnel, new possibilities and a transformed life, and hope that it is transformed for better.
Anti-apartheid and human rights activist Desmond Tutu says, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that stars of hope can be seen only on the darkest of nights: “But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.”
There are signs of hope, stars in a dark night, as news trickles in from countries such as the US, UK, Israel and Australia where deaths have reduced and people can now move around without masks and normal activities are resuming. If some can get to the end of the tunnel, all humanity can.
In the midst of these turbulent times, I often recall what numerous sages have said: “God’s answer to our prayers is: no, yes, and wait. God has a purpose for his answers because he has a better plan for you.” While we wait for our prayers to be answered, let us hope that humanity never gives up hope. As physicist Albert Einstein said, “We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” Staying hopeful and looking towards a better future is the best tribute we can pay to those who did not survive this virus.
The author works with the government and is based in New Delhi