I pray to God that he gives me the courage to accept that which I cannot change and the strength to embrace the inevitable.
Even as we heaved a sigh of relief bidding 2020 goodbye whilst 2021 brought us the vaccine giving us a false sense of security, we were inundated with news about the new mutant virus from South Africa. Here we are almost two months into the new year, once again on a roller coaster ride, that shows no signs of slowing down.
Mid-February brought a hard freeze to Texas and with it a mind-numbing halt to everyday life. Over a million people were left without running water, electricity, and Wi-Fi. When the power did come on it was rotated to areas at four-hour intervals. The domino effect was felt by medical clinics and essential services came to a standstill. To my readers in India this may be a regular occurrence that has built within you a coping mechanism. Unfortunately, that resilience is lacking here primarily because usually things work like clockwork. There is an infrastructure in place, the letter of the law applies, and accountability hangs like a Damocles sword. So, what happened? Essentially, the energy sector is de-regulated which gives ultimate power to those in control of the oil and gas industry. The weather warnings were there but everyone from the politicians to the CEO’s dropped the ball as they did not foresee the power grid being overloaded. A hundred vehicle accident in Dallas was caused due to black ice on roads that had not been salted. The unfortunate week continued with hospital waiting rooms, akin to war zones, were full of patients in their 80’s and 90’s suffering from hypothermia and not enough staff to tend to them.
During this ‘perfect storm’ I, personally was grappling through all of the above with somewhat of a positive attitude when the morning broke with the sad passing away of a close friend. You see, in life we create these mindsets that our choice of friends be on the same parallel as us. My friend and I were poles apart. Hers was a traditional upbringing that stressed on selflessness. Artifice, pretentiousness were alien to this woman with an ever-smiling face, despite having suffered some terrible blows. She lost her mother and three brothers in the span of five years and later in life became the primary caretaker of a husband who had suffered a stroke. Through it all she never lost faith nor her wit. Her simplicity did not presuppose the wild scrapes I got her into by taking her to Vegas on a gambling spree or playing teen-patti till all hours of the morning. She was a foodie and her kitchen was always open to our group of friends who landed up without notice for khichdi and ringan-bataka nu shak (a staple comfort food for Gujus). If I were to write a eulogy for my dear friend who also happens to be the only sister of late veteran actor Sanjeev Kumar – I would say, “Gayatriben, you will be in our hearts forever, especially when we eat pani-puri and look up at the sky and see a cloud wink, we will wave to you and that tear you see rolling down our faces is from the spicy water and not because we never got to say good-bye.” Rest in Peace dear friend.
As we step into more precarious weather (at the time of writing this column), with too many unknowns and obstacles to stride, I pray to God that he gives me the courage to accept that which I cannot change and the strength to embrace the inevitable.