Tales for posterity

From the bubonic plague to the Ebola outbreak, meticulous documentation of stories from the front offered enormous insight and, for the common man, much hope.

Published: 29th June 2020 03:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th June 2020 03:09 AM   |  A+A-

Healthcare workers in protective suits arrive at a society to detect COVID-19 suspects in a bid to control the pandemic at Malad in Mumbai. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

Even in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak — when the infection was spreading from country to country faster than we could learn from each other, when almost every government seemed to be two phases behind and trying to catch up, when healthcare systems around the world were scrambling to keep up their services even as their people succumbed to the disease, and people from all walks of life found themselves stranded (indoors or on the road) — the powers that be had turned to the wisdom of earlier generations and their learnings from past pandemics.

From the bubonic plague to the Ebola outbreak, meticulous documentation of stories from the front offered enormous insight and, for the common man, much hope. This time around, author and blogger Antara Pandit has taken it upon herself to introduce the world to a few stories of this pandemic. Her e-book titled Life During Covid-19 is an anthology of experiences of people from around the world. With the book set to be launched by the end of the week, Antara talked to CE about the journey that led to this creation. 

Excerpts follow:

What led you to compile an anthology?
The idea of putting together a collection of experiences came to me a week after Lockdown 1.0 began. I bounced the idea off a few close friends and there was such positive feedback.  So, I immediately developed a few guidelines for an e-book, which would allow people to acknowledge what they were going through. The response was overwhelming! In less than two months, 60 stories were received, edited, and compiled. 

How important do you think it is to share our stories at a time like this?
I am a person who believes that sharing personal experiences can change lives. This is the foundation for all the work that I do, and the way I live my life. So, it was no different with COVID-19 and the lockdown. Within the first few days, I could see the upheaval that was taking place worldwide, and I knew people would be looking for various ways to deal with what was happening. Be it frontline workers, educators or parents, every person has a story to tell.  As a writer, I am conditioned to always look inwards, reflect, and acknowledge my own stories before I can write about them. My vision for Life during COVID-19 is two-fold —  

1) For it to be a reminder to all the contributing authors that they have impacted a life somewhere by sharing their journey, and

2) For the stories to be a source of strength and inspiration for everyone who reads it, now and in the future. I want the book to be viewed as a piece of history that helps forge connections. 

Are the stories featured in the book from people you know personally?
Many of the contributing authors who have written for the book are known to me — family, friends, distant acquaintances. However, when word about the e-book spread, strangers from all over the country started mailing in their stories. These authors are from different generations and all walks of life. The youngest writer is eight-years-old. 

While the stories may be as diverse as its authors, what is the one thing that stands out with all of them?
Each author has selected a specific ‘category’ — pregnancy, personal growth, duty and sacrifice, safety, social connections and relationships, business, healthcare, and more — to record their experience under. Each category is a separate chapter with multiple stories under it. There are 14 chapters in the book. While each story is unique, the one common thread that jumps out at you and ties them all together is the immense strength and perseverance that people have shown in adapting to life as we know it right now. 

How has it been like to plan a launch over a Zoom call?
Not easy! But we are all making the best use of technology right now. I am used to doing Zoom meetings every day but webinars are a completely different ball-game! So, I am currently doing multiple test runs to make sure that there will be no technical glitches that day. The event includes 13 author readings, so everyone being on the same page is key. I have realised how lucky I am to have an amazing support system and a group of friends who have been helping me with this.
The book launch is on July 4 at 6.30 pm

Webinar link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84600269166?pwd=T0RJZmx3bXd1WHlFb2RwWSs4ZjhTdz09
ID: 846 0026 9166;
Password: 584381
Book is available on Amazon


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