Day Before Yesterday
I still recall the day before the world came to a standstill—news websites and TV channels trying to keep up with the frenetic updates from different parts of the globe, countries shutting down their borders, and the panic-induced phone calls to parents about travel arrangements. And the flurry of events that led us all back to the safety of our own homes, some with family and others alone. At that time, I rejoiced at the fact that I would have a couple of extra days of holidays since mid-semester was just around the corner. However, looking back now I didn’t think those farewells would be the last of what I would see of my friends for a very long time, the hefty weight of the situation still not registering fully, unable to foresee the explosive impact it would later have. I mean, who knew the side-effects of Covid would include putting a pause to my teenage years.
It was the beginning of the digitalisation of my life. Soon after came the online classroom invites, followed by assignments that came hand in hand with deadlines, the Google meets and, to top it all, the vortex of stress. Text conversations were reduced to things that were school related and exchanges of exasperated hopelessness. The fact that it was a slow burn made it even harder, not being able to pinpoint where it started because as we went through the mundane way of life between four walls, the days blended into one moment. The date being the only thing letting me know that time was passing. It was a never-ending game of ‘whack a mole’, where the moles only multiplied every time you hit one.
Wired But Offline
Not paying attention in class resulted in no active participation from my side, because I had no idea what was going on. Even during social interactions, I found myself unable to get my point in and from that it fossilised into not knowing what to say and how to act. The complete deterioration of my social skills left pure panic in its wake. Then came along the more philosophical questions, like what is my purpose? How can I contribute to the world? Is school really necessary? You know, all the big, life questions, intensifying the height of pressure even further. After a year or so, I started finding a lot of posts surrounding mental health issues. For some it was a cry for help, and for others it was to advocate that it was a very real thing. The symptoms listed were relatable to so many, encouraging them to seek help to get back on track. What does this mean for our future?
New Road, New Hope
During the more eased stages of the lockdowns, the government green-flagged the idea to give cyclists a path to ride every Sunday morning. Excited at the opportunity to be outside I did the implausible, I started waking up early. Cycling became my escape from the screen my life was downsized to. Ironic, because I was so tired of my (life) cycle. I got to move my head around to watch out for the cars on the road or the odd exchange between two cows as I passed by, instead of the dull mono-cubic computer screen. It made me appreciate the outdoors much more and gave me a sense of serenity. Being part of a generation that depends on technology to fill in their free time I began to realise how much more enthralling the world is.
Cycling has also honed my curiosity. I do not shy away from a newly-found path and love to find new spaces that are not destroyed by modernisation. I’ve found joy in exploring little caves in hidden beaches, different routes back to my house, parks swallowed by untended to weeds and much more. Cycling also reconnected me with people. I found two friends that joined me every Sunday morning. We would go eat breakfast in a café close by and venture off around the area. Sometimes we would be too early and the café would not be open so we would go to a park nearby and sit on the slides, enjoying the tranquillity that a Sunday morning had to offer.
(This appeared in the print edition as "Teenager's Diary")
Avnita Koshy-Sukhija is a 15-year-old student of Hebron School, Ooty