SAFFIYAH EDOO

SAFFIYAH EDOO

It is fair to say that a year ago, while we were busy preparing to spend time with family to welcome what seemed to be a promising decade, the majority of us could not fathom that this promise would not be honoured, at least not during that first year. Twelve months later, here we are, trying to take what life has thrown at us collectively and adjusting to our personal circumstances. For my part, a year back, I took a leap of faith, leaving my job. I was strongly convinced that throwing myself into the unknown and embracing whatever the universe had planned for me was empowering. Little did I know what was coming.

While this decision proved to be a useful one during the lockdown and the months that followed, the mental load of it, at some points during that year have not been easy to carry. In fact, more often than not, I have been crushed under that load and it took every ounce of willpower to stand back on my feet. Thanks to therapy, I am better able to identify the triggers and brace myself for what is coming. Nevertheless, each and every time the wave of low self-esteem and the feeling of worthlessness washes over, it seems easier to remain at its trough that try to reach the crest. I do realise that I talk from a point of privilege, whereby my household is not wholly dependent on me to be run. And this realization heightens my awareness towards people who have seen their lives topple down overnight in the wake of the pandemic. I cannot dare imagine the mental states of the members of households where both partners find their sources of income gone during the night, with an armload of bills and responsibilities, without any prospects in view.

Today, as the calendar indicates that the time has come to welcome a new year, I find no heart in celebrating. I find fireworks disrespectful, any kind of celebration a slap in the face of people who were probably celebrating last year, but who today cannot bear to look at themselves in the mirror. Contrarians might argue, and maybe rightly so, that this is in fact the time to find some kind of happiness and start over. However, the fact does remain that our lives, in general, have now been deeply coloured with uncertainty, which, whether we like it or not, might not be easily washed out.

If there is any resolution to be taken for the coming year, it’s this: we need to accept that a certain way of life, one that we knew and one that we drew comfort in, is gone; our normal is gone. We have to find it in our hearts to mourn that and embrace the fact that there are no certainties, no guarantees, nothing set in stone as regard to what can happen in our lives. While, deep down, we were aware of that, it is now time to bring it to the surface and look at it in the eye. How do we prepare for uncertainties? I believe this year has taught us just that.

2020 brought us face to face with the essence: our own selves have been laid bare for our hearts to see who we truly are, who are the people with whom our hearts are truly connected and to what extent we are willing to jump hoops for; what it is that we truly want to do with our lives, having stepped outside the hamster wheel that we were on; the kind of life that we aspire to build for ourselves and our families; the kind of country that we want to live, the kind of people we want to govern us, most importantly, the kind of people we DO NOT want to govern us; and the kind of world that we want to live in. This should be the starting point for something way bigger that what we have been carrying forward for so many decades.

As we bid goodbye to this year, may we go beyond the “new year, new you” platitudes of losing weight, of changing jobs for financial gain. Rather may we take good stock of what we have gone through and make our lives more meaningful from what we have learnt. May we not lose sight of the essence that life has forced us to confront to increase our awareness of the kind of life that would be better for us to aspire to. Today, our lives have gone beyond what used to be benchmarks of success, may we have the wisdom to embrace new ones that will bring meaning to our lives, and that will arm us to accept any uncertainty that will be thrown at us.