BENGALURU: If you told me at the beginning of the year that 2020 would go down in the annals of history as one of the worst years, I would scoff at you as a pessimist of the highest order. When the year crept up on us unsuspectingly, the mood was one of positivity and cheer. There is something about the beginning of a new decade that makes us set unrealistic targets for ourselves. Yours Truly fell for the hype too. While I usually stay away from New Year resolutions, I allowed myself the luxury of making a few for myself.
I would use the beginning of the new decade to make myself healthy, wealthy, and wise. Of course, it’s a different matter that I put in no effort to ensure I was early to bed, or early to rise. But a new decade brings with it new possibilities, I told myself, and decided that 2020 would be the best year of my life. Little did I know that others had made the same decision – viruses, locusts, and mother nature!
If 2020 was tried in court, it would find it hard to defend itself. How does one justify riots across the world, a virus that has affected 6million people with no cure in sight, economies crashing to the ground, and natural calamities? But if one were to peek into history, how does 2020 hold when compared to other disastrous years?
Take, for example, the Bubonic plague – a repeat offender that wiped off millions of people in the 6th, 14th and 18th century, at a time when there existed no media and information, and scientific temper was restricted to praying to god to help people survive. If we move closer home, India witnessed three catastrophic famines in 1769, 1789, and 1791, where an estimated 30 million people died out of hunger. Is it possible to quantify death and destruction of tragedies caused by humans – like the Holocaust or the atomic bombing of Japan? Probably not.
If anything, we in 2020 have access to media and information. We are able to alert each other about the dangers that are coming, and sharing resources related to preparedness. There’s also the other fact that tragedy is personal, and through many parts of my life, I concluded that a particular year was the worst year, ever. As a child, no year could be more tragic than 1992. It was the year my parents dropped me off at school, assuring me that I’d be back home in a week.
Our teachers played along for a few days, only to break the news that we would only go home after a year, when the academic year ended. The sense of betrayal I felt was beyond any grief I have felt ever since. Then there was the year 2000, when I ungraciously entered my teens. It was a year when I had only two reasons to survive – cricket and Madhuri Dixit. The latter would effectively retire from acting in 2000, and my favourite cricketers were accused in a match-fixing scandal. If I wrote this column back then, I would have undoubtedly called 2000 the worst year to be alive.
So perhaps it makes no sense to indulge in name-calling. Let us all give 2020 a few more chances. Even if the world seems to be burning all around us, perhaps the second half of 2020 could make a dramatic turnaround. This a leap year, after all. Maybe what it needs is a leap of faith from our side!