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.
April 29, 2020