India’s Viral Conqueror of 2021 – Caught in the Eye of the Storm

India’s Viral Conqueror of 2021 – Caught in the Eye of the Storm

As an Indian residing in the United States, it’s hard to truly know the extent of your ancestral country’s hardships…that is until you are caught in the middle of one. The COVID-19 pandemic had struck the world hard in 2020, leaving most to hope 2021 would be better. Well, we’re in April of 2021, and India is in absolute despair due to a sudden outburst of the virus that is running rampant throughout the country and breaking all pandemic records till date. Innocently, I was traveling to India for urgent reasons and to spend time with my grandparents & family, knowing the pandemic could take anyone we loved without discrimination at any time. Having taken all necessary precautions advised – negative tests before traveling & on arrival, masks on masks for protection, and various hand sanitizers and disinfectants always handy – it seemed the trip would go as expected. My trip began and everything was seemingly going as planned, when suddenly reports came rushing through that India was seeing record increases in COVID cases and the High Court sent notices to all states imploring them to take significant actions to control the aggressively worsening situation.

Stranded in the Middle of a Biological Conquest

At the time I was heading to Delhi, my usual residence because my grandparents and most of my family resides in and surrounding the Capitol, when we were informed that the city was implementing strict curfews and considering a full lockdown. With optimism, I continued my journey to Delhi in hopes that the curfew would be manageable and the condition would improve as it had in 2020. Needless to say, that is not how things progressed. Within days the situation worsened, forcing the capital of Delhi and the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP), Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (MP), and Karnataka were entering full lockdowns for the rest of the month until they could reassess the situation. If that wasn’t terrifying enough for someone in the middle of interstate transit, we received word that my grandmother, my Nani, was down with COVID along with a few other family members. As per the pandemic restrictions, my destination was now inaccessible because we could not enter Delhi and my reason for coming was postponed because my Nani’s house and all individuals living there would get locked down until officials determined it was clear of the virus. So as I sat in my Haryana hotel, I realized that I was potentially stranded in a country rampant with the pandemic.

…I had to get home without stopping, all the while observing the India I love react to its present conqueror.

They say that trauma survivors live in survival mode and that it’s not a way to live, yet what kicks in during a time like this are those exact survival instincts. What people deem as paranoia or overly-cautious become necessary perspectives and precautions in order to make it through such a situation. In the middle of a pandemic, in a country where women are not safe in normal scenarios such as on the highways (definitely not at night), and in a situation where lockdowns mean increased poverty for those who can’t run their businesses and resort to thievery, survival instincts come in the form of do-what-you-need-to-in-order-to-survive-worry-about-everything-else-later. I was already considering a break from the world because of almost-burnout from my work life (first world issues of course), but the situation made the choice that much clearer – I needed to step away from the world and focus on making it through physically and mentally however I needed to. Rather than enjoy my transit by reading my e-books or listening to music, I managed my battery-life purely for GPS and emergency purposes for the lengthy drive I had to get home without stopping, all the while observing the India I love react to its present conqueror.

As I travelled through the country, I took away two things: 1) India is unrecognizable when its people are nowhere to be seen and falling apart and 2) somehow people retain their humanity and are still able to enjoy life in the midst of it all.

The India I Cannot Recognize

Since the onset of the pandemic, many countries have imposed “lockdowns”, but not all have been quite as strict in their rules around these lockdowns as others. India is an interesting case because it falls within both perspectives on lockdown methods. There are states which imposed the lockdown and enforce it with armed guards, fines, and police brutality (the brutality varying depending on your state and what lockdown rule you broke). Then there are states that are more worried about the stereotypical perspective of “log kya kehenge” (translation: what will people say) that they are hiding the true impact of the pandemic on the state in question by not reporting the true number of cases and deaths, and leave the lockdown/curfew enforcements up to each municipality. The latter method almost always resulting in many villages and smaller towns closing some institutions but not all, not actively enforcing masks, and definitely not restricting large gatherings in marketplaces during non-curfew times.

What’s worse is that these states and their people would like to abide by the procedures and guidelines, but not all can. Those villages and smaller towns are actually grateful that they are not being forced to follow lockdown rules because they can’t afford it. If they did, the people would not necessarily survive irrespective of the virus. The farmer who is already run down by the months of aggravated agricultural regulation upheavals from the current administration must continue to work on the farm to keep one’s family alive with the food from the fields and the money it brings in by bringing the goods to the big cities and selling them in open markets. Not continuing their work would result in more harm to more people and they need the exceptions or leeway their state allows.

It almost feels like the scene in Sholay just before Gabbar makes his entry to attack the village; the calm before the proverbial storm.

Sholay is considered among the best Hindi films of all time – Hindustan Times

At the same time, if you were to enter an area fully enforcing the lockdown or during the strict curfew hours, it’s as though the world as we know it has disappeared. The streets are empty, besides a bull, cow, or dog casually roaming the seemingly abandoned vicinity. The store fronts are locked shut and all the lights are out. The wind blows the dust around the streets uninterrupted, not a being for miles at a stretch, and you can see the heat of an Indian summer reflecting off the highway with barely a vehicle in sight. It’s as though the human race has disappeared altogether. It almost feels like the scene in Sholay just before Gabbar makes his entry to attack the village; the calm before the proverbial storm (See the epic Bollywood movie to understand the reference).

The only places where things get lively as they never did before are at the highway toll booths where delivery trucks are showing their lockdown exception passes, waiting for interstate transit approval, and around medical facilities. Pre-pandemic, these facilities only ever had a security guard or two to perform the usual checks before entry – standard vehicle and bag scans. Now in the face of a pandemic on steroids, the larger facilities have police support and the surrounding streets of major cities have armored vehicles because the facilities are getting out of hand. It’s one thing to hear of the impacts of the virus on one’s community in a place you remember so beautifully, and entirely another to experience its devastation first hand.

Indians Always Remember the Importance of Life

Even as the pandemic rears its very ugly head, the worst of situations still has the country buzzing with communal support and moments of pure joy. I have travelled to various countries, and nowhere have I seen people come together for humanity, try to survive together, while still finding time to truly enjoy happy moments, as they have here.

As the cases in India rise, the community response has simultaneously increased domestically and internationally. Every news channel, media outlet, and individual social media presence is actively sharing the latest status and resources. The resources ranging from domestic information on where oxygen tanks have become available to international sponsorship & donations to send more supplies. It is amazing to see how the global South Asian community has banded together in one nation’s time of need to send not only money & medical devices, but also advocate and lobby their respective governments to stand with humanity and support India however they can.

The South Asian diaspora is known to be full of diverse traditions and colorful celebrations across regions, languages, and religious beliefs, and in this country that represents so many of the aforementioned, the brilliance of the cultures remains vibrant even during such a dreadful time. Although the Indian government could do a MUCH better job of providing strict guidelines around how to celebrate key traditions and religious/sporting/personal events to contain the spread of the virus, the Indian people are finding ways to still celebrate the happy moments amongst the madness. From the safety and comfort of my hotel room, I can hear nearby homes and people rumbling with pure exaltation when their favorite team excels in the Cricket IPL, or the grace and joy of coming together with the family they still have for iftaar, or even gleefully enjoying the time they finally have with the people they love while watching their sitcoms and latest Bollywood movies. Many are gratefully following protocol with their masks and social distancing, while others have rested their full faith on their religions in choosing to assemble within protocols, knowing full well that they are taking a risk, all in the belief that these moments with their loved ones – for what could be the last time – is worth it. Either way, in the midst of the traumatic state of the country, there is some joy and it is beautiful to witness.

What Needs to Be Done & How You Can Help

As the news in India rages on about the pending government elections (the least of priorities from a humanitarian standpoint), followed by the rampage of immoral folks blasphemously stealing and selling oxygen machines & necessary medicine on the black market, Indians are faced with the pandemic survival dilemma: stay in and follow lockdown/curfew procedures or risk losing the people you love because you need to earn an income or need to get them medical support to survive any way you can. The result is that people are communicating almost by the minute that someone they love or know has passed away either from the virus or because of a separate, easily treatable medical issue that didn’t get the attention it normally would have. The medical infrastructure of a country inhabited by 1.4 billion people has been brutally exposed to the point that hotels and private institutions have been mandated by the government to act as hospital extensions to house more patients and medical services, and the nation must rely on allies to send support.

We’re losing people not just to the virus itself but also to the lack of services and medical equipment. India needs help and it needs it now. Here’s what you can do today:

If you’re in India

FACE THE FACTS & CHANGE THE COURSE

India has reached this point because many things failed – the government’s leadership, the medical infrastructure, and everyone’s common sense during a pandemic with regard to the importance of precautionary & proactive measures. It is time that each individual realize that their individual choices to forego the pandemic protocol can affect the nation.

  • Follow lockdown protocol. For starters, please take this straightforward approach. The protocols are put in place to protect you AND the people around you. If you are able to, stay home.
  • Take ALL precautions. If you need to leave your home for whatever reason, wear a mask, wash your hands as directed, and sanitize frequently. If you have been to a location where you were at risk, quarantine yourself for the next 14 days to ensure you don’t contribute to spreading the virus. DO NOT STOP doing taking these precautions because you have received a vaccine or because you think the location is sanitary. Even the experts don’t understand the virus and it’s variants enough to take such risks. Stay cautious.
  • Share resources. If you have information about local resources that can help someone, share it as far and wide as you can. You don’t know who needs it, and many do. Use your networks and platforms to share the information you have or have come across to spread it further. (see the list of resources below to get started)

If you’re outside of India

YOU CAN STILL HELP & YOU SHOULD

The world has enjoyed the knowledge and culture of India for eons and it is time to save that very same part of the world everyone has enjoyed for their own benefits.

  • Support/Donate. There are many Indian or South Asian organizations that are pooling funds to purchase medical equipment to send to India and to support families that do not have the funds to survive. Use the resources outlined below to guide you to the option that works best for you.
  • Advocate. Reach out to your elected officials and request their support for India. Your voice has an impact and can make a difference.

Resources


Dum hai is mitti mein
Jo humare ragon mein dhodta hai
Toh kaisa toofan hai yeh
Jo dum ko thodne pe tula hai

Inteha hai is yug ki
Mat jhuko mere yaar
Waqt hai saath mein ladne ka
Mil ke hi jeetenge is baar

Translation (adjusted for meaning):
There is strength in this earth
That runs through our veins
So what kind of storm is this
Hell bent on breaking this strength

This is a test of this era
So don’t bow down just yet friend
It’s time to fight together
For together is the only way to win

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 1: Time

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 1: Time

People often continue through life in the expectations of society and the community they are surrounded by, and spend all their time living up to those expectations. In fact, we are conditioned to believe that there is a set path we need to follow in order for life to be “successful” or “complete”. What is forgotten in this conditioning is that everyone is unique and has their own path to follow. Each individual gets to decide how they shape their life and success is defined by them and no one else. If there is anything to glean from this year, it is that life is unpredictable, so rather than waiting for society’s expected life moments to be happy or do the things we want to do, we should do those things now. We should make time for and design our life around what our hearts say our life needs. Most people wait to do that when they ‘retire’, but you don’t know what life will look like after 40 years, let alone tomorrow, so why wait to live it until then?

Holding back your passions or waiting to do the things you want to do in life is just preventing you from living your life to the fullest. In an effort to encourage y’all to live your best life, let’s recognize and celebrate what you gave time to in 2020. I want you to recognize what’s important to you and aim to give more time to those things in 2021.

For the last day of 2020, and Day 1 of Fast 5 of the Last 5, let us celebrate the time we gave to what was important to us.

Time Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things or people that you made time for in 2020.

1. The People I Love
2. My Passions
3. Self-Love
4. My Personal Growth
5. Life Goals

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can celebrate the value of what you gave time to.

Activity Reflection

This had to be the fastest yet slowest year we have experienced. It felt like life was slipping away and we were not able to make use of it as we originally intended and yet it was moving so torturously slow that it felt like the shenanigans of the year would never end. For those familiar with the game Jumanji, it definitely felt like someone started the game in the first quarter and each stage of the game was a new kind of crazy that we couldn’t wait to get past. Well it’s finally the last day of 2020, and I join everyone in the hopes that today runs smoothly and we just make it to tomorrow without anything falling apart. When the 31st of December comes each year, we tend to reminisce about all the things we’ve done this year – the good and the bad – as well as all the possibilities of the year to come. Since we tend to make time for the things we truly enjoy, and we spend time frivolously on everything else, I want to spend this last day thinking about the hours and days I spent on the things that I truly valued.

One of my greatest accomplishments this year was that I did make time for the life I love and the one I have wanted to live. Even before the pandemic hit, I had envisioned this year as one that I would spend building the foundation for the life I deserve. I initiated a lot of that work in the first few months, and when the pandemic hit, I actively chose to allocate time focusing on the tasks and lifestyle choices that aligned to that life. It was a struggle, as much of this year was, but I am proud that I was able to make some amazing strides and succeeded in making time for what mattered most to me.

To continue the theme of making time for the things that matter, I am not going to go into deeper reflections on my 5 things in hopes that you all spend today making time for what matters to you. Let’s spend the last day of 2020 celebrating not just the end of this year and the beginning of the next, but celebrating life itself and the fact that we get to live it!


In this life of mine
The unknown is time
To live life accordingly
Is the main goal of mine

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 2: Knowledge

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 2: Knowledge

The pandemic took a lot this year from the world, from families, and from our plans. What the pandemic or anyone else in this world cannot take away is knowledge. What you learn remains with you and becomes a part of who you are. My mother always taught me that there is a lesson to be learned from everyone and everything we encounter. Each conversation teaches you something about yourself, about that person, or about the topic being discussed. Each story you come across by reading, watching, or listening has a moral to take away. Most of all, each moment in your life is an experience that you grow from if you pay attention to what it is teaching you. It is this perspective that helps those who believe in “everything happens for a reason” stay committed to that belief because in a single moment you’ll either learn something immediately or, if you can’t figure it out just yet, you’ll know the lesson is coming. So whether you experienced something that left it’s mark, realized something about yourself, or picked up a new skill, this year was abound with opportunities to gain some knowledge and I want to hear all about it.

On Day 2 of Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020, let us celebrate all that we learned and will take into this next phase.

Knowledge Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things you learned in 2020. I’m very excited to share mine!

1. TikTok
2. Value of Nature
3. Hoarding is Handy
4. Dogs are the Best
5. Ukulele

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) because I want to know what you’ve learned!

Activity Reflection

Every year I try to focus on one thing I need to work on in my life. Since I already know I learn from people and experiences daily, I pick a bigger topic to address for the year overall that will take time to accomplish. This year, even without knowing that Covid-19 was going to overhaul the year’s plans, I had intended on pursuing my passions to make them more integral parts of my life. Prior to 2020, I dabbled in my passions from time to time when I felt like it or needed an outlet, but this year I wanted to make time for them every day because I recognized the value they added to my mood, my happiness, and my overall wellbeing. By the end of 2020, I ended up nurturing some passions while I also having learned some valuable life lessons.

TikTok

In my humble opinion, I believe TikTok and short-form video was a significant and positive outcome of the pandemic and ensuing lockdown. The platform gave people confined to their homes a new form of entertainment that was quick, easily consumable, and actively engaging. The active engagement of course was and is optional, but became vital as people realized that they were beginning to become one with their furniture and needed some form of movement in their day. Although I did not jump on the TikTok or short-form video trend immediately, I thoroughly enjoyed consuming it and learning the value of this new channel of entertainment consumption and production. In the latter half of the year I began creating some content for TikTok as well as the Instagram contending functionality, Reels. I continue to learn about this platform as I explore it and intend to continue producing content for it. If you want to join the fun, check out my TikTok here and my Instagram here.

@__akiti__

A girl who loves Christmas like me 🎄😉 #Christmas2020 #agirllikemechallenge #girllikemechallenge #girllikeme @shakira @iamwill @blackeyedpeas

♬ GIRL LIKE ME – Black Eyed Peas & Shakira

Value of Nature

I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit in my life having visited 14 countries and 48 states of the United States, and experiencing the beauty this Earth has to offer across all of them. As such, I always enjoyed nature and respected it accordingly, but this year I saw how powerful it is that it could fight back so vastly that it crippled the human race. Nature pushed back on us so fiercely with Covid-19 that we were forced to be confined to our homes and could no longer continue the destruction we were inflicting on our habitat. During this confinement, I took the time to understand survival methods using what nature has to offer, the delicate balance of provider and destructor that it is, and how much of the modern products we use leverage what it has to offer but muddy it with synthetics. I enjoyed learning all that I did because it opened my eyes to so many cool aspects of nature I had not known previously, but also because I have a new sense of respect for what it is capable of.

Hoarding is Handy

Everyone witnessed the embarrassing manner in which folks attacked stores for the supplies they thought they needed in preparation for the global lockdown, but that is not the hoarding that I am referring to. Natural hoarders, like myself, have always bought supplies in bulk and maintain a constant stock to ensure that one is never without necessary items (and often unnecessary items, but ones that we cannot seem to bear parting with). When the pandemic was declared, my survival training kicked in and I immediately took inventory of what I had, how much I had, how long it would last, and what was missing. It was of no surprise to me or my friends that I had most of what I needed, and that stock would have lasted me about 3 months. In learning more about the virus and seeing the political reaction to it, I knew that I needed to have at least enough for 6 months if I wanted to ensure that I didn’t have to leave my premises because my asthma puts me at a higher risk. Of course when I did enter stores, they were practically empty! The community had already panic bought and cleaned out supplies. I could not have been more grateful for my hoarding than in that moment because I got through the initial weeks of the pandemic on my original stock alone before gaining access to the additional supplies and stock I intended to maintain.

Dogs are the Best

My boys – the S Pirates – are my babies and I learned to cherish them even more than I already did! I am grateful that I got to spend so much extra time with my boys and they are ecstatic that I have been home 24/7 this year. What I learned in that time is that no matter what happens in life – with work, with relationships, with the world overall – the moment you look at or snuggle your fur baby, it all dissipates. In that moment, you feel such engulfing love, that you cannot help but be convinced that you have a companion to get through it all, no matter what. There were many days where the lockdown tested my trauma healing and the first thing I did whenever I felt low was take one fur baby into a snuggle and close my eyes. The peace I feel in doing that is inexpressible and I am so glad to have so many fur babies to experience that with. Knowing that they love me and are with me no matter what life throws our way, makes them one of the best parts of my life and I’ll never doubt that.

Ukulele

I learned to play a new instrument! When I visited Hawaii, I purchased a Hawaiian-made ukulele (correctly pronounced oo-koo-ley-ley) and I vowed at that moment to reengage in my musical passions. I’ve previously studied and trained in piano, harmonium, tabla, and Indian classical singing, but stopped everything years ago due to many reasons. I have always been musically inclined because I love the feeling of the music through me. Many may not understand what that means, but the vibrations one feels from different instruments in the way they strum, beat, or emit the sounds triggers something in each person differently. There is quite a bit of scientific literature on this, so I may explore that with you all at some point, but for now it is just important to note that it is a passion of mine that I had let go of many years ago and I was elated to bring it back into my life. I had always intended to learn this instrument virtually because my time was already so aggressively allocated that I felt virtual lessons were a good start. I was fortunate enough to find a teacher, Paul Elwood, via Lessons.com (a great place to find virtual teachers!) that had been hosting virtual classes for quite some time now, so when the lockdown was announced, my lessons were not impacted. I am proud to say that I have successfully learned one instrument and reignited this passion, so I hope to share more of it with y’all soon!


Life is full of lessons
If you could only see
Each experience is the key
To all the possibilities

– Akiti –

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 5: Gratitude

Fast 5 of the Last 5 (2020) Day 5: Gratitude

We are often asked what we are grateful for and there are some usual suspects that folks answer with, as is customary, because we are expected to be grateful for certain things like family. Gratitude, by definition, is the willingness to be thankful for or show appreciation or kindness towards something or someone. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we are not equally blessed with people or experiences that we can be thankful for, and so we should be gracious to those who are grateful for other things in life because of what those things mean to them and their life. For example, not everyone has family or even should be expected to be grateful for them if that “family” has been abusive or disruptive to their life or peace of mind. Therefore, those individuals may be grateful for a great many things or other people in their life and that is absolutely, unquestioningly acceptable and I am grateful if you prioritize yourself and your peace of mind enough to recognize what is okay for you.

And so, with an open mind and an open heart, I welcome you to Day 5 of the Fast 5 of the Last 5 of 2020 as we count down to the new year! If you’re joining for the first time, please visit the introduction to this new year-end tradition, and then return here for the first activity below.

Gratitude Activity

Without pause, quickly list 5 things, people, or experiences you are grateful for in 2020. Here are mine:

1. Life
2. My Crew:
Mommy & the Boys
3. The Family I Choose
4. My Health
5. My Freedom

Share your 5 things in the comments and on social media, and be sure to use the hashtags #Fast5oftheLast5 #F5L5 #2020F5L5 and tag me (@__akiti__) so we can be grateful together!

Activity Reflection

My list actually rolled off the tongue quite expeditiously because I realized what truly mattered to me after a traumatic period in my life. I often refer to that period as a previous life because it genuinely feels as though I died and was reborn with a second chance at the life I want and deserve to live. That’s not to say my list is not specific to 2020, but it just so happens that the pandemic reaffirmed for me the importance of these 5 things and why I am grateful for them.

Life

Often people offhandedly mention they are grateful for life as a general act of respect for all that life encompasses. My appreciation for life is a bit different though because I have been close enough to death, had multiple near-death experiences, and experienced the loss of literally everything in my life to truly recognize that every ounce of life I get to live is a blessing. Every person, every object, every sense I get to experience is beautiful to me and I actually wake up thankful for this opportunity daily. This year in particular reminded me how quickly these things can be taken away and reignited my desire to live my best life, so I’m grateful for that realization and the opportunity to exist here.

My Crew: Mommy & the Boys

As a result of the 2020 pandemic, we were confined to our homes to be left only with those living with us. For many this was difficult, dangerous even, and an unexpected sentence the world delivered them – and I feel for you all deeply. Fortunately for me, I could not have been more ecstatic to get to spend all of my time with just my Mom and my boys (my fur babies – Scooby, Shaggy, Scrappy, Sparky, Sonic, and Shadow – learn more about them here!). Outside of the pandemic, the world had become so focused on the activities and people we needed to engage with to feel like life was being lived, but I have known and was beyond grateful to get to engage with the ones I love most in this world because they deserve my time the most. They are the core of my being, the why for my existence, and the ones I would venture to the ends of the universe for. There is nothing that makes me happier or brings me more peace in this world than being with my crew and seeing them happy, so I’m grateful for the time I had and continue to have with them because each moment is a blessing.

The Family I Choose

Everyone is born into a family (biologically), whether you know them or not, are close to them or not, or in whatever form that may be. Society tends to promote the expectation that everyone should strive for and hold onto the “nuclear family” because that is the “right” way to live. In 2020, I believe we’ve progressed enough to realize that the modern family is what you make of it. Your family is the culmination of the people who choose you and with whom you reciprocate that choice because there is mutual respect, trust, and love in those relationships. If those three elements do not exist, then quite frankly, you have every right to not want to maintain the relationship and should not have to.

I learned this the hard way in life, but have come out with a strong family I choose that is a combination of biological relations and beautiful souls that made their way into my life, both of whom choose every day to be active and supportive parts of my life, and I in theirs. I got to spend beautiful moments with most of these people (all within the context of the safety protocols of this year), and we made memories for life that I truly cherish. The pandemic also showed me the true colors of many individuals I thought to be a part of that family and had to let go of in honor of my self-respect, and so I am even more grateful for realizing who is meant to be here and chooses to be.

My Health

Over the past 6 years, there was an onset of many random and life-induced medical conditions that I struggle with even today. In 2020, whilst the world was battling a health condition that has taken the lives of so many and continues to bring strife, I learned to appreciate my state of wellbeing more than ever. I am an asthmatic and Covid-19 has been a particularly high risk for me, so coming to the end of the year without having Covid-19 and remaining in generally good health for the greater part of the year outside of a few natural hiccups, is astounding for me and something I am truly grateful for. I’ve realized the importance of healthy practices and intend to continue the activities I engaged in this year to build my immunity and strength to remain well in the coming year.

My Freedom

In America especially, we speak of freedom as our right but take it for granted more often than not, especially if you are privileged enough to not experience freedom-hindering actions against you. I have lived a generally privileged life as it pertains to my freedom because my parents maintained a liberal mindset by which I was allowed and encouraged to explore the world and myself with their full support. Even coming from an Indian background where the culture does not always support such liberal lives, my family has always been this way and are loud and proud of it. It is probably due to us being of Punjabi descent (from the northern state of Punjab, India), in which such liberal nature is quite common compared to other parts of India. That being so, I ended up in a very traumatic marriage where that freedom was stripped away entirely and I was a modern-day slave in a life I never could have imagined for myself. After being freed of that entrapment, I realized the value of freedom and recognized that one cannot fully appreciate it until that freedom is taken away.

In 2020, as we were forced to remain in the confines of our homes and the Black Lives Matter Movement exploded with the attempted eradication of an entire peoples’ freedom, much of the trauma from that torturous time resurfaced in the form of thoughts of what life would have been like if I was not thrust out of that life. In revisiting those experiences and working through that trauma, I realized that freedom is not just political with regard to what you can and cannot do in society. Freedom is the inherent right you have to live life the way in which is true to you without any impediment by others or in any way that harms another’s freedom or life. That being said, in 2020 I am eternally grateful for the freedom I have to wake up every day when I want, how I want, and to live the life I want.


Life is what you make it
If you are able to do so
Let us all be gracious
For we reap what we sow

– Akiti –