• Soumna Nema

So Many Storms

Nina was sick of online classes. Lucky for her - all her classmates, or at least the ones she had managed to acquaint herself with, were just as annoyed with the way COVID was making them lock themselves up at home. The routine was boring her to death. She was barely able to attend lectures because it felt like such a pain. What hurt her the most was that she was in her freshman year of college, and she had barely set foot on campus. Some days she felt sick of her parents, too. They were both working from home. She was happy that she didn't have a sibling at this point.


It was a school night. Nina was playing Among Us with her classmates on Discord when they all received an e-mail from their dean. It read - "Dear students, lectures have been suspended from May 26 for the rest of the week due to Cyclone Yaas. We hope that you are all staying safe."


Nina and all her friends let out a loud whoop! They had needed nothing more right now. "I am finally going to sleep in tomorrow. I just bought a new mink blanket. It is time to put it to good use, eh?" laughed one of Nina's friends. Nina was happy about it too until they received another e-mail, from their math professor.


This one read:

"Dear students, I am sure you all must have already received the e-mail announcing that you all have holidays for the rest of the week, owing to Cyclone Yaas. Hence, I will be conducting extra lectures after your holidays to pick up the slack these holidays will be causing. I hope you understand my predicament.


I am writing to remind you that these aren't the kind of holidays where you should allow yourselves to let loose. As your mid-semester exams draw nearer, you must devote your time to practicing all that you have learned so far. This will help you not feel disconnected from your course material. But more than anything else - practice and revision will help you focus on your future, instead of the hardships you are facing in the present. It will give you hope that one day all of this shall pass, having only made you stronger for the challenges that still lie ahead.


These times are tough, and here's something that will make your lives easier - always count your blessings. I know just the thing to help you understand what I mean. Please find attached a picture my cousin sent me from my hometown in Odisha, where floods have devastated the town, cutting off power supply possibly for the next three to four days.


My dear students, don't let anything get you down.

Stay strong, stay safe and stay active.


Regards,

Dr. Rama"


As her friends groaned loudly, having read only the first three sentences, and complained about the pressure building up for the upcoming exams - Nina excused herself from the voice call. She closed her computer and put her face in her hands. "Oh, no...", she thought to herself, "I have been going about this all wrong", she said, as she let out a little cry. Some tears followed.


Nina realized what a brat she had become. Life was so fragile, especially at a time like this. Nothing was certain. She remembered all the articles about mass lay-offs. She remembered that just because she had stopped paying attention, it didn't mean that the numbers had stopped going up - people dying, losing loved ones, losing their jobs, and their livelihoods.


And now, with natural calamities like Yaas, people were losing their homes, too. Their peril was greater than ever. Entire lives were being uprooted, and it was in no one's control.


So, what had Nina been doing all this time? She was complaining day and night about how she was missing the "traditional freshman experience". She had been rude to her parents, even though she probably had no idea the pressures they must be under and how hard they must have been working to put food on the table and pay for her education. She had been so ignorant. She was ashamed.


She resolved to be better. In the morning, she prayed for her family's well being. She prayed for all those who were affected by the cyclone. She asked God to give her the strength to work hard enough to one day be able to give back to her family and society when it suffers. Then, she donated her pocket money to relief funds helping people being affected by the cyclone, and by COVID. She had to do her part.


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