Traversing the once hallowed halls of my erstwhile alma mater I reminisced about the days gone by.

I am now in my third year, but the jubilant feeling of a new start was missing, an array of reasons swirled in my head, they assorted themselves into a neat pile, teasing me with painful memories.

It may have been because of how late this semester had started, how it was nice to be out of the claustrophobic confinement of my beautiful home. I missed the camaraderie and numerous discussions on an infinite number of subjects with my friends. However, the resulting situation due to the pandemic, was that we could only attend college on specific days.

Exams of the second year are yet to be conducted but the year has dissolved into a cornucopia of activities lost forever. The concept of attendance hangs over our heads like a Damocles’ sword, with a timetable like this, the professors and students are in a constant state of turmoil whether the syllabus would be completed on time.

The cafeteria which used to be the hub of the college, now held a dejected look as if it missed the clamor and attention of an overwhelmed crowd. We never could get a seat but now the empty tables instead of beckoning us towards them, drove away the appetite.

The college now held a desolate air about it, no bibliophiles perusing through periodicals, no professors catching bunking students, no bargaining with the cafeteria vendors, no having basketball matches to settle arguments, no using the mass-communication lab for editing videos, no planning a surprise birthday party for the economics professor. Life has become a series of no’s….

We were going to have a Literary Fest. It was going to be the mega event of the college. Innovative and colorful banners were supposed to be strategically placed at various locations in the college highlighting the event. The stalls would be artfully decorated while comprising of interesting literary games, while food stalls would sell sumptuous food having a literary theme! The grand finale would have been the human crossword in which students would move on order, dressed as letters.

The library and the sports arena earlier teeming with their habitual occupants now had such strict measures of safety that visiting them had ceased to be a welcome relief from the monotonous daily schedules.

We decided to have a get together at a popular eatery to celebrate our re-entry into the real world but I was reminded of an incident that happened when a very close school friend of mine was invited to a reunion of sorts at a trendy cafe assuming that the status quo still prevailed.

They reached their destination and were confounded when they realized that everything had changed and nothing was normal anymore. The restaurant did not allow them inside because they did not have a reservation.
Nowadays only a limited number of customers are permitted and that too with stringent safety measures. Masks and gloves are an essential part of everyday modern apparel.

Social distancing is practiced inside too with tables set apart, no attendants to wait on you. Digitally ordering your food has become the norm, while touching and perusing the menu has become a thing of the past.
The service industry has undergone a huge transition. No more is there unfolding of napkins, someone waiting around to serve, an entire line of occupation has been retrenched as it is too unsafe to even do their duty.
The group was astounded, they had just forgotten that they lived in a time of such strict and enforceable rules and regulations. They had to return dejected and forlorn.

Even transport has become selective and measures have been enforced to ensure that both drivers and passengers are safe.
Aspects of going to malls, gymnasiums, amusement parks, sports arenas, public libraries, theatres, events like rock concerts, plays, and poetry renditions are a thing of the past.
The world or the life as we had perceived in the days gone by are no longer a reality, it was a figment of our imagination.

If anything, this extreme case scenario has taught us that life is not to be taken for granted. It is not a cakewalk. We should be eternally grateful for what we have and what we have accomplished. It has also taught us a sense of resoluteness, responsibility of achieving the unthinkable and the best part is that we were and will continue to be family.

We can only hope and pray that we do not have to face such circumstances again. If at all we do, we should diligently follow the orders given by the Government of India and abide by the directives given by the State Government and medical professionals.

To all the personnel especially the doctors and nurses who put their own lives at stake, looked after their patients, and provided professional expertise of the highest standards. They will be our superheroes forever.

We should express our gratitude to the security services and police who continued to work under extraneous circumstances, ensuring that we did not have to step out of our houses and all necessary amenities were available.
The neighborhood grocery store and the delivery agents who followed all precautions sanitized our merchandise before delivering the same to us, we would remain eternally grateful.

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