There is beauty even in the ugliest mess, and it’s the artist’s job to find it.
― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories on Leaving & Arriving
I’ve been trying to make sense of time lately. It’s a running joke in my family that I’ve been going to school for an inordinate period of time and that I never seem to grow up because I’m seemingly still stuck in school. I remember the cold but sunny day when I saw my then would-be school 7 years ago. And I remember it was December 2019 when news of a novel strain of virus hit the news but it was far away in China. It didn’t matter.
Then reports extended to countries around the world but we were still in our bubble of monotony – ‘it’ll be gone in a few days, it’s no big deal.’ I was in the middle of my finals and we barely just got it done. The day after my last exam, all subsequent exams were postponed and would eventually be cancelled.
It wasn’t a question of being lucky, it was an answer to how vulnerable we were as both students and humans.
Soon, the life we now term normal was kickstarted, screens were to be my refuge and my angsty 16 year old self was lost in bleak worlds just like everyone else was. Over the course of just 1.5 years, life has unfolded more of itself than it has done in the past decade.
People I knew and loved were dying, we lost our first pet, teachers were leaving the school and people I’d come to depend on unknowingly were suddenly past the age of retirement and were leaving too and suddenly, there were two batches each, of grades 10 and 12; one prevented from advancing further and the other lost in whether they should be growing or not in the first place.
You see, life isn’t just about growth. It’s about the understanding that arises slowly, the loss of freedom that accompanies it, that single moment of realisation where you discover how the world runs on an algorithm of its own.
Life is about empathy and compassion. It’s about relating to the struggles other members of the human race fight through on a daily basis, those that we were potentially spared from because we or our ancestors didn’t seem favourable to that particular part of the algorithm that seemingly defines life’s mortality and by extension, the mess it creates.
As a student, it’s understandable how, over 90% of my life, has been associated with school, and education is the only sphere I can actually relate to. But as a human enslaved to the beauty of imagination, I can put myself in the shoes of each and every person I’ve come to read about or simply glimpse in the news and I’m suddenly in a dark world where death is a sweet reward, where breathing is suddenly billed.
And all but, in a mere fraction of seconds, it appears as thought the world has aged at a faster rate than it was dying. The environment’s been blackened, the air rendered unbreathable and its inhabitants caught up in a bloody struggle blinded by life’s pace. And all along, are petty human squabbles functioning in the background as if one life lost wasn’t enough.
A systematically crumbling world, politically wrong, economically weakened, and blackened with the loss of lives. All of it sustained inside a thick cloud of hope.
It’s prudent to say every mess is mortal, that every cloud has a silver lining. Hope is what holds us together. It’s that malleable, golden string of love, woven into lives, erecting a protective barrier around fear to keep it out of sight.
But this mortality that we seem to glorify, for it makes everything all the more valuable, is no longer kind as it once was. I know there’ll be an end to all this because like everything, bad times are also mortal by their nature, but it’s devastating to see how blind fate is, in picking off it’s would-be audience, one by one every day.
Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”
― Laini Taylor, Daughter of Smoke & Bone