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A stroll through memory lane...

Updated: Dec 1, 2022

2020- A year of horror, excitement, and sorrow. The Australian bushfires, rumours of World War 3, the impeachment of Donald Trump, a pregnant elephant died by being fed a pineapple filled with explosives in India, the deaths of Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Chadwick Boseman, the stock market crash, the Black Lives Matter movement, the explosion in Beirut, wildfires in California, and of course, the Covid-19 pandemic.

I remember the day the Wuhan province was on lockdown. I had had a long day and I was in the car after school, trying to fall asleep when my mom told me the news. I could not have possibly cared any less. I didn’t know then that Covid-19 would affect me this much. I was a sleepy, tired kid who just needed a break from school and life, in general.

I watched the news with my parents in absolute horror. The only viruses I knew about were dengue and malaria, and if you had any of these diseases, you stayed in the hospital until you recovered. So how was this virus spreading so fast? How was this 2-month-old virus travelling the world more than I ever even dreamed of? And trust me, I’m a dreamer.

The day schools closed in Sri Lanka. We were so happy. “Finally a break from school!” we cried out in happiness. Now, I’m sitting alone in my bedroom, longing to be in school again. To have fun with my friends, to be yelled at by my teachers, and to have sports meet practices under the scorching sun.

The first lockdown was weird. We were at home. A strange adventure, to be at home all day, but it was a good one. We were making Dalgona coffee, we learned how to cook, we started picking up new hobbies, and we tried new workout routines. We had fun. We had hope. We knew that things would go back to normal; that it would get better. We made post-covid plans; we had long zoom calls talking about the new trends on Tik Tok and the old books we now had time to re-read. Things were different then, and drinking koththamalli was part of a new daily routine.

The Black Lives Matter movement was felt globally. Even in Sri Lanka. “Fair and Lovely” changed its brand name to “Glow and Lovely” and we participated in the #blackouttuesday movement on June 2, 2020, as a global protest against racism and police brutality as a response to the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.

A very important highlight of 2020 to Sri Lanka’s cricket fans- the 2-1 win in the Sri Lanka vs. India t20 series. We (FINALLY) broke India’s 13-year winning streak and the country roared as the men in blue walked off Jayasinghe Stadium, victorious.

Then came 2021- A year that was somehow worse than 2020. The total number of global Covid-19 cases reached 100 million, Myanmar’s military coup, Covid-19 vaccinations, the variants of the coronavirus, the Ever Given- one of the largest cargo ships ever made got stuck in the Suez Canal for 6 days and froze nearly $10 billion trade a day, the death of Prince Philip, the Taliban took over of Afghanistan, Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip after they began displacing Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, the Tokyo Olympics, India cut internet around New Delhi to dilute protests led by up to 250 million

Indian labourers as a protest of three new farming deregulation laws imposed by the Indian government which would make farmers vulnerable to exploitation by corporations, and contribute to unemployment, debt and decreased wages, Trump’s second impeachment, NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, Covid-19 death toll surpassing 2.5 million in just February and 4 million in July, Cyclone Seroja in Indonesia, El Salvador becomes the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as an official currency, over 130 wildfires in Canada, the X-press Pearl caught fire in the coast of Sri Lankan and caused an environmental disaster.

This lockdown? It was hard. I saw a post that said the numbers have changed to names, and it’s true. It went from “Oh, there were 5 new patients who tested positive today” to “He tested positive today” Not numbers, but names. The people we knew, the people we loved, were all in danger. There was no hope. There is no hope. People have died because there was no oxygen. People are struggling to get household essentials like gas, milk powder, and sugar. There’s no space in hospitals so people have to stay at home, despite having Covid-19. The people are suffering.

The vaccinations that we worked so hard on making were slowly becoming more and more ineffective. We’re on our way to memorizing the entire Greek alphabet by naming a large number of variants of the Covid-19 strain; the main 5 variants being the Alpha Variant, Beta Variant, Gamma Variant, Delta Variant, and the Omicron Variant. Our hard work and investments are less and less worth it as the variants grow stronger and stronger.

Last March, we stayed indoors. The streets echoed of pin-drop silence. But this time, everyone is outside. Shops are open. Bars are open because people can’t afford to shut their shops down. We're no longer scrolling through Instagram, smiling at the pictures our friends have posted. We’re scrambling to catch up with lost time instead.

I reached a new level of all-time tiredness. I slept all day but somehow, I was still so tired. I thought it was just me but no, my friends felt the same too. As exams kept being postponed, our motivation gradually decreased. Our teachers’ breathing down our necks was the only thing that kept us alarmed and aware of which day it was. But now, they’re on strike- for good reason, but the majority of Sri Lanka has now lost access to education. There are many more issues too, of course. Mainly, the internet. Living in the central hub that is Colombo, my Wi-Fi still doesn’t work properly. So why are we surprised that children in rural areas climb trees to find an internet connection but fail to find it?

There were good times too, like the patriotic pride that we all felt as we watched our very own Milka De Silva be the youngest ever flag bearer in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and when Dinesh Priyantha won gold and Dulan Kodithuwakku won the bronze medal for javelin throw in the F64 category in the 2021 Paralympics.

Despite the quite unbelievable and jaw-dropping amount of disasters that happened in such a short period of time, most of us still managed to make some amazing memories that will last a lifetime. Seriously. There’s no way any of us could ever forget the past two years. From lockdown to zoom calls to quarantine birthdays, we’ve learned to adapt to this new lifestyle. While our ancestors fought wars and made great sacrifices for the betterment of our country, our only duty is to stay within the comfort of our own homes. Covid-19 is not a joke. Even if you do recover from it, you can still suffer from long term side effects like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and breathing complications. Nevertheless, you are still a warrior. You are a soldier fighting to protect this country. Do your part. Stay home and keep you and your loved ones safe.

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