I confess to have never read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s bestseller, Love in the time of Cholera. But the title was too good an opportunity for me to pass up.
While the COVID-19 (“Novel Coronavirus”) sweeps the globe, I felt that it would be prudent of me to write about something other than the pandemic. It seems to me that an overload of information that some of us seem to receive (i.e., me) is not good for one’s mental health and stability. It is better to remain calm and collected in the current situation. Hence, to take my mind (and hopefully yours) off the situation, I hoped to write about Napoleon I’s endeavors in the Battle of Austrelitz, which hopefully I will get around to writing in due course.
I do not have a great love story to write about, but I do have memories with my friends that are invaluable to me. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are numerous and complicated, and the world will never be the same again once we outlive this. The sequence of events that lead us here will time and time be debated and discussed and analyzed to death. But what I am narrating here is also a consequence, which creates an almost eerie sadness that persists through these times.
As COVID-19 pandemic sweeps the world and puts all our health and safety at risk and damage, what I and some of my friends are experiencing seems anything but significant. It is inconsequential in the scheme of things, it is a mere blip in the radar. But now more than ever the small things matter. And to be honest, I wish I could say that most of the mental difficulty I am experiencing is because of other causes, but it is my inability to process the abrupt halt to my college life and the time I stand to lose with my friends.
The Government of Kerala had, as a precautionary measure, on 10th of March, decided to suspend classes in all educational institutions. It was out of the blue in many ways; but one cannot doubt the necessity of the decision. A feeling of instant death had overtaken some of my friends, and I could not but feel the same , though I kept it to myself. Normally, one would be overjoyed at the prospect of a mid semester break, considering the circumstances, at least a bit okay with the decision at least. But not to all. To the students of the final year, it was a gut wrenching call. (Context: I am a final year law student at NUALS, Kochi.)
Placeholder image from NUALS
The uncertainty of our return hung over us as we left the campus. We were heading into the final few weeks of our college life, a fact I kept repeating to the annoyance of some. A five year association was about to come to an end, and I had just started to plan out how to spend my final few days in college – lunch with friends, weekend trips, what not. All of that is now in the distant future, in uncertain terms. A bit of solace was offered to me by a close friend: At the very least, we will see each other when we come to vacate our hostel rooms. Solace, indeed.
College is a unique environment in many respects. For me, it was a form of emancipation after being in an IIT-JEE sweatshop. I had the freedom to do with my time as I pleased, and while the classes aren’t the greatest thing in the world, I did manage them as well as I could. I came to achieve things in my life that I did not anticipate, and more importantly, I met and befriended arguably the most amazing bunch of people I have ever met. That is not to say that college has not sucked the life out of me at times, I can recall more than a few instances. But you know what? College was is amazing. One does not truly value what we have until it (seems) lost.
This is not an ode to everyone, I hope not. A mere note, to myself and my friends that we may not get the farewell we wanted. Forgive my cheesiness, “Be sad not that it ended [abruptly], be happy that it happened.”
I do not know when I will see my friends again, but I look forward to it. I cannot wait to see all of you.
Edited by one of those wonderful friends, one I’m proud to call my sister, Aishwarya Ajayan.