Lives Reset: Stories of Hope, Heart, Healing and (Un)distancing

On the dawn of March 21, 2020, I was in a train travelling from Odisha to Hyderabad, hoping to reach home before the various pandemic-related lockdowns began.

For India, and many other countries across the globe, COVID-19 was no longer an isolated dark cloud on the horizon. In an astonishingly short while, it had taken over the skies and transformed into a living, breathing, tangible danger looming threateningly over the whole of mankind. The Prime Minister of India had announced that there would be a Citizen Curfew (Janta Curfew) on March 22 – a tentative first step towards restricting the spread of the virus.

In the previous few weeks, I had been studying the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world and had sensed a possible implication for India. The announcement of the lockdown was an ominous confirmation that a disturbing journey was about to begin.

As I mulled over the situation during my trip back home, an old habit kicked in— that of wanting to protecting my communities somehow. The stories flowing in from around the world at that time were almost uniformly grey and dismal. I worried for us.

I asked myself—how could we use this period as a transformative moment in our lives?

Out of that thought rose an idea. A creative project, such as an anthology of stories, could keep us purposefully engrossed and together. In that moment, I was almost like a mother who wanted to keep her children occupied with a fruitful endeavour.

I sent out a Whatsapp message to the Lightweaver Writing Group, asking members if they would like to write on the theme ‘Life and Hope in COVID-19 times’. The word ‘hope’ was deliberately inserted in the hope that it would orient writers to search and build stories around it.

Many bright souls signaled their consent, and we decided to take the anthology forward.

At that point, little did I know how poignant and profound the journey would be. How we would form a community of kindred spirits or how the wonderful human brain would imagine unique, magical stories of hope, heart, healing and (un)distancing.

As I read the stories, I would sometimes shed a little tear, sometimes smile, and sometimes be amazed by  the whole new universe created by these stories  I found an enchanted space where relationships could be reset and new ones could be found. A wondrous new territory where one could have an adventure, heal from past moments, strengthen existing relationships, discover the self in fresh ways, seek and find deliverance, triumph over challenges, and re-interpret taken-for-granted relationships.

A universe where the earth heals…where the spirit reconnects with the cosmos…

I am astounded by the seventeen human beings who are at the core of this anthology, several of them first-time authors, eagerly weaving possibilities, determined to imprint hope in glowing letters on the dark grey skies of the pandemic.

Their writings changed the universe that I dwelt in. And the wannabe mother became a child instead.

As I write this note, I sit with this entire anthology—a little oasis in an unsure world.  And I now know how precious it is.

I hand over this treasure trove of love to you, dear reader. Hope, heart, heal and (un) distance with us, will you?

You can find our book on Amazon here.

The proceeds from this book go to HIV+ve Kids supported by Sevai Karangal. For details on this project, please visit here.

Bhavana Nissima


April 29, 2020

3 thoughts on “Lives Reset: Stories of Hope, Heart, Healing and (Un)distancing”

  1. I started reading this book, and I loved it. The book is not a usual manual that tells you how to stay motivated and what to do or not do. This book simply shares stories of hope that have the power to inspire those struggling with the time and what’s going on around them. It has the power to give purpose and look beyond the current times.

    These are stories of our friends, colleagues, neighbors, and everyone. I can confidently say that there is something for everyone, including kids.

  2. This blog post itself is brimming with hope,optimism & positivity .This blog post is the reason,this book became a reality ! Thank you,Bhavana for making this happen !!!!!

  3. I was privy to the birth and creation of these stories, the rushing ahead to meet the deadlines and editing, choosing a title, designing the book cover and bringing the book out. It was the most exhilarating experience as though you are included to witness the birth of a new life.
    Infused with such pure hope, I got my e book and read, reread all the stories.
    Words coming from deep inside us, words spoken with utmost honesty and words so sincere in their warmth and love have the power to transform us and bring a new perspective and make a shift in our focus.
    That’s exactly each one of the stories in ‘Lives reset’, does to me. Doctor, entrepreneurs, film makers, story tellers, vocalist, legal counsel, NLP life coach, writers, home makers and consultants – this assorted group of men and women are ready to lay bare their concerns, doubts and fears lurking in the deep recess of their minds. The stories are set in your city, or a place known to you or it takes you to Afghanistan and UK.
    But, there are no preaching undertones here. On the contrary, each one of the pieces is so creative, some of them laced with that subtle sense of humour like the story of Dukhi Atma where Dukhi wonders about her husband’s nods – “He was a skilled nodder, her husband, nodding to everything she asked but seldom lifting a finger.”
    Dukhi, pulled me into her house, into her thoughts with those visual narratives. I could even smell the same aroma of coriander, chilly and onion along with her; I shared her concerns and doubts. She has a subtle sense of humour wondering about her husband – “wanted to ask him what the nod meant. He was a skilled nodder…”. May be, you start drawing parallels?
    So it is not only Dukhi, but I also appreciate, “Life was more than a tiny nerve-wracking virus …”
    Parul, in every cell of her body is a caring doctor; so her analogy presents the profession to us so evocatively! She plans “”; “my immunity fought back heating up the battleground of my body, raising its temperature to 105 degrees Fahrenheit…”
    If ‘A Doctor, delivered’ makes you wonder what the doctor delivered, get hold of the book to understand the passion for the profession, the plan and preparation before a delivery of a child of a committed doctor. The icing on the cake is the flow of words and the medical related analogy to explain things – For Parul, it is not being one step ahead but, “one heartbeat ahead” The labour room description leading to the birth of the baby and her first gusty cry made me feel like the edgy nervous husband waiting outside!
    And the titles…! Your expectation builds up, you wonder about the associations implied there or your imagination gallops away into some mystical or magical land!
    ‘Compound wall’ got me thinking, does it tell about the right height for social distancing or “Are we thinking about reaching out despite the wall?” I don’t know why Robert Frost’s Mending Wall’ flashed through my memory. When you reach the end of the story, doesn’t your brain burst with innumerable possibilities of new beginning? “On the side of the road, the garbage bag that Ajay had once thrown away now sprouted a healthy shrub with beautiful roseberry flowers.”
    ‘Upsurge’ speaks of a different kind of rise/growth that would show the human beings to be more nurturing of their environment than hindering. “And thus, women reclaimed their place as the stronger gender.” So the story goes on! My God! Is there anything more exciting than this! Grab the book, read the story to find out
    Are you one of those persons for whom eating is a task or kitchen evokes nightmares or cooking seems the most mundane task in the world? Let’s shake that a bit! Read ‘Oregano and Rasam’
    “The aromas of spices gave her a calling- as if they were waiting for her to grace them up. (The experiments of such a person will certainly dish out delicacies!)
    “She brought a lavish bunch of bright red coloured tomatoes, fistful of juicy tamarind, green chilies, and raw garlic. She poured a long quantity of water into a vessel and started boiling it…” “The house breathed a new wave of aroma that day.” I could visualise the golden frothy top layer and smell that aroma… I could feel the tangy, spicy taste bursting forth on my taste buds. So, folks, are you ready to venture out and find a ‘new you’?
    You want to feel the cleansing and cooling effect of the first thunderstorm during the scorching summer, look up ‘Blessing in disguise’. The glory of the powerful Kalbaisakhi with the new hope just soaked me in joy!
    ‘Sunflowers in the moonlight’ may appear improbable occurrence but the budding romance (I feel so!) between two human beings (you can’t find two different individuals like them) is so full of hope.
    All the stories are all like the summer rains which brings relief to all creatures – some are like the dark clouds pouring ice cool droplets to be enjoyed with a cup of tea; yet others are like the Kalbaisakhis creating a sense of awe, but still brings a sense of peace in the end (like The Inner narrative); some are like a welcome shower which brings the small birds, squirrels and children out to soak in the cool shower (the verses – ‘Whistling whales and wise men’, ‘I will rise again’ and ‘Just respect’ evokes such a feeling). Have you ever been on the rainy slope of Sahyadri or Himalayas during monsoon and felt the merging of the earth, sky, mountains trees and all into one whole? Still some creations here elevated me to that level too! These words uplift me anytime, all the time!
    “And then, there was only Light.
    Light, inside me, and all around me.”
    “Rumi’s words echo, again and again…“I am not a drop in the ocean. I am the entire ocean in a drop.”

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