The end of 2020 had given a glimmer of hope that things perhaps would be returning to normalcy after the way the pandemic had brutally upended our lives last year. I began 2021 with a trip to Varanasi, a city I had been yearning to visit for long and was grateful both for the opportunity to travel and discover a new place. Much like this woman in the leaf green saree gazing at the Ganga, I found an island of peace, secretly hoping that it would set the tone for the months ahead.
As the year moved ahead, I eagerly returned to exploring the streets of Bangalore, having sorely missed it in all those months when I had been cooped up inside home. I travelled to Dubai in late February to meet my family, seeing them for the first time in thirteen long months; my encounters with art, sunshine, and bougainvillea dared me to hope that the worst was behind us.
But I hoped too soon. I got covid in the beginning of what was a cataclysmic second wave in India, having to be hospitalised for six days and spending months recovering the experience which had entirely upended my self. I remember taking my first walk in the city weeks after contracting the virus, gazing at the clear blue sky and the blooming gulmohur, the colors literally resuscitating my gradually healing lungs.
I somehow felt compelled to document my healing journey both in the form of daily outpouring of words and this healing map, to remind myself that I was progressing daily, both physically and mentally, getting better with each passing day.
It was while I was in hospital that the seeds of a dream planted themselves in my mind: a gathering of women under a tree, its canopy proving a safe space to talk about trees and write poems about them. When I returned to Cubbon Park, one of my most beloved Bangalore green spaces, I saw this gulmohur tree surrounded by a sea of fallen red flowers - and started to take the first steps towards realising this dream.
For long, art has been my sanctuary during light and dark times; this was the first painting I made on a new desk after moving to a new home, marking yet another chapter in a city I have called home for almost five years.
There were many dark, heavy clouds in the year, bringing only rain and gloom. And yet, there were clouds of other kinds too, reminding me that there was and always will be joy to found no matter how much there may be to despair. As the year ends, I tell myself, for all the challenges I endured, I am grateful to find myself in possession of my health, the many connections I forged, and most importantly, the abundant kindness I received at I find myself at the end of the year. This year taught me that no time remains the same and that light will always follow the dark, no matter what.
Priyanka Sacheti shares moments from her life and creative explorations at @anatlasofallthatisee.
Time Capsule 2021 is a series where I invite artists, poets, photographers and people who have inspired me through the year to give our readers a glimpse of their year that was.