Pablo Neruda’s ‘Keeping Quiet’ was not just a Grade 12 CBSE poem, it was a warning of the times to come. A reminder to pause and look within. 

The silence today is eerie. Stranded lanes, empty bars, ghastly workplaces, and we will all keep still, we are indeed still, silent; locked inside our homes. What once bustled with gossiping, constant chatter and business deals, remain locked. Our words have found a new place to stay, Houseparty, Zoom, Google Duo, Google Meet, Whatsapp Video Calls, is this how we digitalise India? for once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; Restricted activity, inactivity, hibernation, let’s stop for a second, and not move our arms so much. A probable gigantic ‘World’ War III suppressed by the actions of a 120-nanometre virus. 

“Bengaluru Thinks COVID-19 Achieved the ‘Impossible’ as Streets Show no Sign of Traffic Jams” It would be an exotic moment, without rush, without engines; divided by the lines of religion, caste and class, today all of us struggle, one with their ‘mozzarella and cheddar,’ while the others drink off of the street. We would all be together? Just not in a sudden strangeness. The impending doom of mass unemployment, recession and hunger, who says we did not see it coming? A single catastrophe had to befall the world in order to expose its fallacies and inequality. 

International relations and global politics are at an all-time high, Trump’s threats of “retaliation” against India for not clearing exports of the drug to the States. Trump withdraws funding of the WHO amidst a global pandemic. Hinted to be a bio-weapon in the hands of the Chinese, those who prepare green wars, wars with gas, wars with fire, over 1,37,000 lives lost, victories with no survivors. 

Restlessness and inactivity dominate the larger part of our days, scrolling and scrolling, binge-watching and gorging, have we confused our lives with total inactivity? The futility of man takes the baton, what is life without social interaction, chaos, the hustle and bustle of Delhi Metro? What is our purpose beyond a degree and job? When was the last time you painted the old building visible from your terrace? Or baked the cake you so desperately want to devour? 

Our productivity, rat-race, the desire to achieve more in a time dedicated to silence, to inactivity; management books write, ‘how to utilise your free time,’ ‘how to be ahead of others,’ ‘how to fall into the hands of capitalism,’ If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence, might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death.

The earth today seems dead, New York dugs another mass burial as the numbers of lives lost climb the ladders. Perhaps the earth can teach us as when everything seems dead, a time shall come, in the near future, when we would look back, think of the scary uncertain days, crawl in the corner of a room and be thankful that humanity survived; and later proves to be alive.

Global warming, climate change, brutal capitalism, exploitation of human right, wars, sheer injustices, is it time to introspect? Introspect the futility of falling prey to the norm of society? Introspect the futility of human relations, corporations, survival at the cost of nature? Now I’ll count up to twelve and you keep quiet and I will go.

Featured Image Credits: Economic Times

Anandi Sen

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In the race of life, at times we must hit the pause button and introspect on our choices and the path ahead.

What a roller coaster ride 2020 has been! We haven’t even reached the quarter of the year and already so many events, some cherishing, and others scaring us to death, have unfolded. The atmos, especially in colleges, is much amped up due to department and college fests; the ongoing, deeply worrying political and social status quo of the nation and of course, the samey anxiety of attendance, assignments and internals.   There was no better way to discover that the most common motivation mantra of our parents “Abhi mehnat karlo, college mein toh aish hai (Work hard now, college is no sweat)” was the biggest con trick of our lives. But like Sisyphus doomed to push a rock uphill for eternity, we, students push on; no matter what.

It is only natural that most students are distressed, face fatigue, loss of interest and lack of focus. If we keep ignoring our physical and mental well – being, the stress can snowball into being overwhelming and lead to serious health problems. Thus, it is imperative to realize the importance of taking a break. The approaching mid – semester break offer us all the perfect opportunity to take some real time off. It has been scientifically proven that vacations and taking short breaks, that give some physical and psychological space from everyday activities, are very rewarding. They boost your memory, spark your creativity, help to build focus and make better decisions. By interrupting the stress cycle, one stands at a better position to restore one’s physical and mental bliss. Taking a break is often labelled as being lazy and wastage of time. Videos and articles on ‘How to survive on 4 hours of sleep or How to work 22 hours per day’ appear almost every month. Being a workaholic is not a bad thing as long as due attention is paid to one’s draining of productivity battery.

So in addition to taking a break, it is vital to make your breaks effective. The effectiveness of breaks depends on an individual’s interests but should chiefly serve the purpose of relaxing your brain. For instance, although enjoyable, a recent survey by Huffington Post found that activities like social networking can significantly increase stress. There are numerous things one can do during his/her break like based on one’s amusements and size of one’s pocket, taking a vacation, staycation or playcation, indulging in hobbies, hanging out with friends and family, catching up on the sleep lost in binging Netflix and/or Prime.

Bill Gates, in one of his interviews said, “I think you could over worship and mythologize the idea of working extremely hard. For my particular makeup — and it really is true that I didn’t believe in weekends; I didn’t believe in vacations.…Once I got into my 30s, I could hardly even imagine how I had done that. Because by then, some natural behavior kicked in, and I loved weekends.” He also reads an hour before bed each night and takes a ‘Think Week’ a year to get away and just read and reflect alone. It is true that success demands sacrifice and persistence but it what good will come if we are not healthy enough to reap and enjoy its fruits?

In the end, ‘keep on keeping on’, but is totally fine if at some moment you just sit back, appreciate what you have and ponder over your locus in the universe.

Feature Image Credit: PC Mag UK

Ipshika Ghosh

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