2021: A New Year Where We Hope for Old Comforts, Not a Fresh Start


2021: A New Year Where We Hope for Old Comforts, Not a Fresh Start

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

The year 2020 has tested the human spirit to its extremes. The coronavirus pandemic, economic recession, and Baaghi 3 have all taken their toll. However, we have now bid goodbye to a year, which has flown by while we were stuck at home saying “I can’t quite hear you,” on Zoom calls. And we look forward to the new one, with hopes, aspirations, and new year resolutions that last 20 minutes.

2020 was like nothing we’ve experienced before. We were physically drained despite being indoors most of the time. The only trip we made between February to December was from the bedroom to the living room; the only outings were to the grocery store or pharmacy. The loneliness, anxiety, and uncertainty about the future also took a mental toll. TV channels kept making terrifying predictions with COVID-19 charts and social media was full of videos where people at large gatherings roamed around without wearing masks and all you could do was passive-aggressively tweet about it. Like a marathon runner who has just crossed the finish line, we are drained, done, and dusted.

At the beginning of every year, people set up goals for a better life. Some want to lose weight, others want to find love, and for some reason, Karan Johar wants to make another Student of the Year. But a few days into 2021 and we just want to go back to the good ol’ days. Back to life as we knew it. We have become humble and economical with our expectations, there isn’t that typical NY glee in the air, and even MBA grads who came up with catchphrases like “Vision 2020” for the new decade have gone mute. The quiet-but-collective shout from humanity seems to be, “Can we have our pre-pandemic life back?”

2021 will be the year where we don’t aspire for much ambition and greatness, but to get back to routine.

There is hope, in the form of various COVID-19 vaccines under rollout. Bollywood stars have started heading to the Maldives, which means I can surely make it to Goa within a few months. Offices have started calling in people to work once or twice a week, as people are once again exposed to luxuries like sunlight, fresh air, and machine-wali coffee. Zomato has started poking users with offers once again, as people ditch the daily haldi doodh routine to order that odd ice cream. There is also talk of resuming public transport in the coming year, so we can once guess a fellow passenger’s breakfast from his breath in a jam-packed local train. Slowly and steadily, we are getting there.

2021 will be the year of the comeback. It will be the year where we don’t aspire for much ambition and greatness, but to get back to routine. Desi moms often taunt their children, “You’ll realise my importance when I’m gone”. That was 2020 in a nutshell. In the new year, we just want to be able to hug a friend, take a walk in the park, and watch a film in the theatre. Who would’ve thought we would long for something so basic and mundane at the beginning of a new year? But here we are, in 2021.

The comeback isn’t going to be easy, and there will be obstacles in our path. A new strain, a new wave, new restrictions, and the same old toxicity on social media. If there’s one person to draw inspiration from this year, it’s the comeback king of 2020, Rahul Tewatia, who defied startling odds to win “that” game for the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League this year. In 2021, it’s not a new beginning that we’re looking for, but a return to old form.