I just eavesdropped on my neighbor this evening; he was crying on the phone. Although the conversation was in Marathi (the regional language here) I could understand he was speaking to his employer and there was something about not being paid. He was crying because he couldn’t pay his rent this month and he won’t be able to pay it next month as well so naturally, he’ll be kicked out. He lives with his family of 4 in a 400 square feet apartment. I didn’t know how to react to that especially when I know it is not just him suffering like this, there are millions of people out there, across the globe facing the same problem.
I haven’t figured out how not to feel this guilt all the time for doing okay during COVID-19. I try to be oblivious to the situation. I don’t watch the news. I still don’t want to accept that we’re going to have to live with this indefinitely because I still go to sleep every night hoping that this is all just a bad dream.
I’ve lived the longest off my parents. They have done well in life and they have done their best to give me a life where I never had to ask twice for anything I ever wanted. Spoiled to a point where I didn’t take no for an answer and I took the liberty to not answer them for the things I did. No, I didn’t do bad things but I wish I did better things. They’ve given me all the freedom one can imagine and I never broke their trust but I have been naïve. I constantly think that I don’t deserve all of this; my father not being so proud of me helps from time to time. I know he loves me to the core, I do, but, he also makes me wonder what if he’s right? What if I am just a disappointment and there’s someone more deserving out there who’d have done great things given the resources I’ve been given in my life.
The biggest strength I have in life is that I’m always one call away from the solutions to my problems and I never have to deal with them myself. During COVID-19 people lost their jobs, people lost their loved ones, there are people out there risking their lives for the sake of others and the worst thing that happened to me was a canceled trip to New York. There are people out there whose lives have changed dramatically and in my life, I’ve just been missing going to the gym.
I know I’m not alone in my situation just like my neighbor isn’t in his situation. There is this bunch of privileged and fortunate ones out there who probably don’t appreciate it enough and maybe I am one of them too but what can I do? I haven’t stepped out of my house other than going to the grocery store thrice in three months. I’ve donated as much as I could afford to donate, what else, what else can I do?
Growing up, I had to learn that the world doesn’t stop for anyone and we’ve got to keep moving. No matter how much we want to do for the world, we can never really do enough. The world is unfair and we try to live in this illusion that everything’s great around us by doing things that make us happy temporarily. A fair & just world is not a Utopian concept, it’s a concept that challenges the equilibrium, the Yin and Yang. Hence, no matter how much it breaks my heart to see whatever’s happening around me, I have to make my peace with the fact that I have to be selfish and I have to see the joy in that; that is the only thing expected out of me, that is the only thing keeping balance.