As I listen to the slightly subdued voices of our neighbors wishing one of their family members a happy birthday at the change of the date at midnight, I suddenly start with a pang of reality hitting me in the face—there is life in the midst of chaos. As they finish the ‘Happy Birthday’ song with a loud cheer at the end of it and ask the birthday person to blow the candles—blame my room at the end of the house and absence of fans whirring for listening to every word of it—I am reminded of how birthdays would continue to come, children will be born, weddings will take place, and people will continue to fall in love despite death at our doors; and thus life will go on.
A few days ago, I read about a couple who said their wedding vows on a street in NYC while one of their friends read the vows to them from the window of an apartment building, the photographers took their wedding shots and passers-by took photos of the couple from their phones to record the surreal moment, and I wondered if there’s a possibility that the world might be ending. The question seems far-fetched, but so does the absolute denial of severity of lives at risk. People seem unperturbed—Italians, Spanish, Pakistanis, the governments of first world countries, conspiracy theorists, politicians; it seems as if cultures and Capitalism has taken a better part of us. Wage earners have been made an excuse rather than the governments’ responsibility to provide for them.
There is anxiety, confusion, ignorance and poverty, furthering as each day passes by; and then there is privilege—money, boredom and plenty of time to do ‘nothing’. And that ‘nothing’ translates into anxiety, misinformation and indulgence into an abyss of emotions ominous at present.
And yet there is nature. Thriving—despite the human suffering. The nature cures itself as the number of infections increase, the death toll surges—as the air quality improves and I witness cold breeze in the month of March in Karachi; canals in Venice have cleared up they say; deers have come out on the roads in Japan from the wild; Ozone is showing a remarkable self-recovery. Is it balancing it out? The pain with healing? Or perhaps it’s just how the nature works—endearing, undaunted, daring? We would never understand. Camus resolves this dilemma for us, ‘But perhaps we should love what we cannot understand.’
The world might not end yet. Our children might grow up and have their children and grand children. We may live to tell the tale of social isolation in the time of technology that virtually connected us across the globe, when we took off the stickers of our devices’ cameras voluntarily to let people see our faces and the inside of our rooms—for work, for studies, for connecting with friends across the globe who we had not seen in years. And yet there would be a slight doubt in that memory because everything felt so unreal, movie-like—empty roads, silent streets, mass graves, lit up cities with no tourists, the sound of applause from balconies, windows, excited cheers animated at the noise of another cheer, until everything is only validated by history.