I have not lived through any such crisis. Most of you may also have not gone through such a crisis. The normal way of life, which we all had just few months ago, seems surreal now. Things will change and this period may seem surreal in near future.
Thinking about how we will be narrating this period to our grandchildren took me back to my childhood days. A story that my grandfather used to tell. A story that involves my grandfather’s quest for survival.
My mom would say “Go and ask your thatha (grandfather ) about his escape from Burma”
I would run to my grandfather and ask “Thatha, thatha, Please tell me about your journey from Burma”
My grand father used to work in Burma (present day Myanmar) in the early 1940’s. He was working there as accounting clerk and drawing a decent salary. His family was in India.
This story starts when Japan raided Burma during WWII in 1941. British decided to give up their power and left Burma quietly. Many Indians who were working there decided to move back to India fearing the wrath of Japanese army. My grandfather was one among them.
“It is a long walk” he would tell me with his eyes transfixed in the ceiling.
“We were walking through forests and hills. We ate whatever food that was available”
I would interfere here “You walked through forest. Were you not afraid of animals or is it that forest does not have any animals like tiger”
“We were afraid of animals. But still we walked through the forest. There were men assigned to keep vigil of animal movements during the night when we sleep”
“More than animals, we were terrified about cannibals . In order to escape from cannibals we used to lie down next to dead corpses holding our breath and hoping that the cannibals would leave the place sooner”.
“Thatha, you are super escaper” I would proclaim.
He lived for 85 years.
Every time he narrates the story, I eagerly wait to see a glimpse of happiness in his face that he survived through this crisis. I only got to see a wry smile in his face.
It took me years to gather strength to ask the question “Are you not happy that you survived. You should be happy that you successfully overcame such a crisis in life”
He gave me a nonchalant reply “I definitely feel gratified to almighty for giving me this chance to live. Happy. Not sure. I would have been extremely happy had two of my friends also made it through”.
Even if we emerge triumphant from a crisis, I know how some of us may feel at the end of it.
The COVID Pandemic which is so real now will become surreal sooner or later and I hope it is sooner and we will emerge victorious for sure.
The question is “Will we be happy”?
Not sure. But I am sure this will leave us all with more gratitude for life.