Goodbye 2020

Goodbye 2020

RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE

The year 2020, it had a certain ring to it. It sounded like a milestone year, a year you could set targets for. “By 2020, I will…”, you could almost hear, why I bet, you must have heard leaders from all spheres mouthing it with a flourish. Then, a mysterious virus struck and everyone scrambled, to finish or complete the above statement, “… just stay alive.” Well, that’s life as John Lennon crooned, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” 

Countries rushed to lockdown, all economic activities came to a grinding halt. It triggered reverse migration of the urban poor. Their livelihoods snuffed out, they limped back to their villages, their hand-to-mouth existence had reached the brink of starvation. The face of the “faceless” migrant stared us back in the face. The fault lines between the haves and the have-nots split wide open. 

It soon became a year of grim milestones. The Grim Reaper with his scythe hit a bumper harvest. He made headlines, splashing all over news space, the daily tracker on the headcounts, the heads rolled, the ones afflicted, it’s spread, it’s behavioural patterns, the remedial measures were all that got reported. 

Why, something else, too, became newsy. Reassuring glimpses of Mother Nature’s timeless splendour provided the much-needed relief among the distressing news stories. Green shoots were visible in Nature. We paused, nature healed. Highly polluted rivers, Ganga and Yamuna were cleaner, notably in industrial regions they waddle through. A 7% dip in global CO2 emissions was predicted for the year. Closer home, the AQI index in the capital fell to the “good” zone, a rarity, the Dhauladhar mountain range was visible in Jalandhar 213 kms away. 

The ageless matriarch showed her fury, too. Nisarga, the strongest tropical cyclone since 1891, hit our west coast, apart from the regulars on the east. Locusts swarmed our cities threatening crops…all directly linked to climate change. But do we pay heed?

“Get the economy started and going. Let’s get back to business,” was the chorus soon heard. Unlocking began with we confident our health systems were primed for the job. We sought the quotidian life, as we knew it. Quotidian, not normal, mind you. Normal never was. Our existence normalises greed, avarice, indolence, inequity, extraction… the list goes on. Indeed, humans are an invasive species, far more destructive than any pathogen. The economy started showing green shoots but is it sustainable?

“Wake me up when 2020 is over,” somebody WhatsApp. Well, it’s time to wake up, hopefully as better people, one that fits well both humanity and Nature.