It has been a year since the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic swept through the country, leaving behind insurmountable damage and grief in its wake. At about this time last year, we sat at home—begging and scraping for ounces of oxygen in desperate attempts to save lives of people whom we may not even have known. Particularly in the National Capital Region, the tremors of this tragedy were strong.
A year later, while life may have moved on, the scars have only just begun to heal. Yet, they are still too fresh in the mind.
One of the many things that the pandemic took away from us was the ability to grieve collectively, as a community. As humans, we tend to find solace in knowing that we are not alone. On Instagram this month, food photographs serve as a quaint reminder that, pandemic or otherwise, the sense of a community cannot be broken in a jiffy.
In olden days, in times of difficulty and death, neighbours and friends would take over the responsibility of cooking or sending food to those in mourning. This act was not just a gesture of compassion—it provided a sense of community. It is important for all to remain fed, but grief, even if momentarily, can sap you of the zeal to live. In such times, food is the last thing on anyone’s mind. Such an act of empathy and community, therefore, is crucial.
If you browse through Instagram nowadays, you will notice people posting a cooked meal in the memory of someone they lost last year. These actions are simple, and yet, somehow manage to close a loop–that of closure. Seeing these posts often reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend, who is a practising psychologist. One of her key expertise areas lies in rebuilding a person’s relationship with food, especially in the aftermath of a death in the family.
Last year, while organising meals for those hit by the pandemic, she told me that a very important part of what she does depends on rebuilding a person’s relationship with food. The process often starts with bland, basic meals–and gradually brings the fare back to normal. In ways, food plays a role in facilitating catharsis—of helping people come to terms with what had happened.
Today, the moment is bittersweet–as Instagram wells up with food posts dedicating a favourite meal to a loved one lost, you realise how so many moments in life are largely temporary. Yet, you also become aware that food plays a far greater role in our lives than what we might often fathom. It could be sushi of the most exquisite order or a humble fruit. At the end of the day, it is not the dish that matters, but the memories attached to them. You may have tasted your life’s oiliest noodles at an unlikely roadside shack, but those noodles and its various iterations would have been immortalised due to the memories associated with it.
is a food writer who is known for her research-based articles through her blog ‘Delectable Reveries’