It was an extraordinary year. The worst nightmare, brought to us by TV series and horror movies, was no longer a distant dystopia. Yet it brought into focus some amazing acts of kindness, empathy and bravery. Like the teenaged Jyoti Kumari, who cycled home to Darbhanga from Gurgaon, over 1,200 km with her injured father.
Or Minal Dakhave Bhosale who gave birth to her child but not before making India’s first testing kit. As Covid-19 unleashed its full terror, exacerbated by a strict lockdown, the nation witnessed unprecedented mass migrations, of hungry, angry, desperate people.
They who built our cities, looked after our children and ferried us everywhere. Yet when it came to providing them succour, hardly anyone stepped up. Those who did became instant heroes, whether it was actor Sonu Sood or chef Vikas Khanna. What did 2020 teach us? Perfect vision? Not quite.
It told us how we had been looking reality in the face and yet ignoring it, whether it was climate change or the outbreak of viruses. Will the lockdowns, the curfews, the socially distanced queues, change us fundamentally, showing us the complete ridiculousness of our fast fashion and our luxury consumption? It is too early.
The world is yet to wake up from its stupor, lulled as it is increasingly by cheap data into watching AI-enhanced entertainment and social media-derived news headlines. It was always burning since the world’s been turning, but yes we did start this fire. But also, we found our own firefighters. This list is not complete and exhaustive, but it does contain some of the firestarters and firefighters of 2020.
Some were superheroes, others mere attention-seekers, and yet others fierce survivors. They dominated our headlines in a year that was at once deeply memorable and horribly forgettable. It was the year we learnt to live dangerously, fighting an invisible enemy, in an increasingly shrinking universe. It was the year that defeated us.