Sounds a bit crass and inconsiderate, right? Personally, it does. I mean, just when I was about done with preparing to write this, I was giddy with excitement with all of the nice things that had happened to me during one of the most difficult times we all were experiencing. I also felt a sense of pride, as I pondered about the numerous positive developments COVID-19 has or would produce going forward, and for my ability to put an optimistic spin on the various observations so far… But I had run out of cigarettes.

It was 4.30am in the morning, but the panic of not having my only real friend drove me onto the streets sitting on a rickshaw on an adventure to get my hands on a pack of the magic sticks, and my hero of my darkest hour’s phone rang. His mother called and she was crying. My own agitation and intrigue grew along with the guy’s growing distress as he tried to calm his mother. The call ended and the composure he was trying to hold onto for her went with it. He lost all sense of our mission, unable to form words when I asked what happened, while his smooth driving up till that point went frantic. However, he tried to contain the anguish, and he clearly felt uncertain. Right then, although we found a woman selling cigarettes, she only had a few left. So, I bought a few and got back on his ride to take me back. As I took a drag and asked him what was up, he almost broke down, saying his father had contracted the “Rona” days prior and passed away. I paid his fare with the money I had in my pocket.

Well, to be honest, I felt this dual emotion of being a considerate and kind person, but equally crude and crass at the same time. The cigarettes calmed the trepidation somewhat, and here I am about to light up all of humanity in these trying times.

Maddening as it might sound to some, there are positive developments down to the pandemic.

On the personal front, while it has been certainly challenging and trying at times due to numerous situations, the very same circumstances brought out the best of me. Firstly, while the isolation did accelerate my demons and the anxieties I carry, for the first time in years, I could actually sit with them. I learned to live with them and utilize them to maximize my skills, in terms of navigating through the darkness, which, in a way, pushed me to work harder at everything on my plate gave me a huge shift in my perspective. My performance at my institution has been growing steadily; my attention towards both my mental and physical health has gotten stronger, while I definitely feel much more willingness to explore my talents with a renewed vigor I haven’t felt in years. Also, I’ve noticed similar things happen for others as well, and I genuinely believe a number of crucial matters have gotten much needed attention which would in usual times would not generate as much awareness.

Mental and physical health awareness has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Matters such as sustainable living, protecting our environment, and social awareness would not have generated the due attention they desperately required, prior to the pandemic.

You see, in normal times, we had little time to consider these issues; to take a deep breath and think about them, or  to encourage others in taking actions towards such affairs. However,  for me, the pandemic, even if it sounds odd, has impacted the collective consciousness. Had we not been forced into isolation, these matters may not have garnered the required interest and awareness as most of us would have left them as they were. I mean, issues and incidents, whether big or small, have gotten minute attention, allowing us to evolve for ourselves as individuals and together.

Maybe, COVID-19 pandemic was the much needed “reset”, after all?

By Montasir Monsur Sourav