3.13.20. It’s honestly crazy how life can change. On Thursday 3/5, the week before spring break, I was excitedly lugging my suitcase on the 28X airport shuttle, on my way home to Boston. We were going to be attending my cousin’s wedding in India for the week of spring break. When my dad picked me up from Logan Airport, he was kind of quiet, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was too busy planning my basic brown girl Instagram post in my head. I envisioned what outfits I would wear, and which ones would photograph the best. The post would have been all about me, even though it was not my wedding.
When we get home from the airport, I can tell something is off with my mom too. She sits me down, and tells me the news: my boro jetu (uncle) has passed away. His son was the one who was supposed to get married. We are still going to India, but the wedding is postponed. We anticipate attending the shraddho (last rites ceremony) held after about 12 days after death, instead. And so, I leave my kurtis and simple tops in the suitcase, but take out the lehenga and fancier salwar kameez. My mom takes out the jewellery and wedding gifts.
On Friday morning (3/6), I am snoozing my alarm every few minutes. Usually, I don’t need more than two to wake up, but today perhaps my subconscious knows I am not looking forward to break. I still go to my interview that afternoon. The simple acts of taking the glamorous orange line into the city, walking on the familiar brick-adorned streets, and listening to my ‘S20 Greatest Hits’ playlist, are calming. When one of my interviewers innocently asks my plans for break, I can feel my face get flushed and tears welling up. I’m not sure if he notices this, but he gracefully changes the topic after I answer. Besides that one small moment, everything goes smoothly and I head back home. By 9pm that evening, my parents and I are at Logan again, suitcases in hand, this time at Terminal E.
Today 3.13.20, it’s almost a week later, and we are in Kolkata. In a few days we will go to the shraddho for boro jetu. Although the reason we are here is sour, we have managed to make our lemonade, so to speak, by celebrating Holi, going shopping, and doing some sightseeing. My mejo mashi (aunt), mejo jeti (aunt), and choto maima dida (i want to say great aunt), are all bringing us the absolute best Bengali vegetarian food (no meat, maach, eggs, onions, garlic until the shraddho day). But today at 5:30 am, I wake up and can’t go back to sleep, so I decide to connect to Wifi and check my phone. I learn that CMU has decided to make classes online, and is encouraging students to complete their semester remotely. Carnival is canceled. My lab tech has texted me asking if he can pull the plug on my current cell plates. I consent, which breaks my heart as both a scientist and cell mom.
Life doesn’t always wait until you are ready. Sometimes, it just happens. Although I was having a great time the first half of the semester, I was looking forward to goofing off even more. It is important to remember that things could be a lot worse, and that we are not alone. I pray that this measure does a great job at preventing further spread. We are blessed. Perhaps yes, I did not need a third PDT formal to realize I am not the dance master I claim to be. Also, if you have seen the meme, yes, “Corona” does indeed sound like something a Bengali girl in the mood would say. It loosely translates to “Please, do it”. When I told this to my parents, they couldn’t help but laugh.
To whoever is reading this, you are not alone. We shall overcome, and this too, shall pass.
Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.Albus Dumblebore