by: Gowri Somayajula

In all honesty, this week’s article was supposed to be about the FinCEN files and the impact of discovering that billions of dollars have been laundered by large financial giants since the early 2000s. 

But I couldn’t bring myself to write it. And then I thought long and hard to myself: about what I did want to write. 

Firstly, reader, I ask you how you are. Are you safe? Are you happy? Are you in a good place in life? 

Or do you feel alone? Adrift in times of confusion, aloof in times of duress. 

I guess we’re all alone, aren’t we? I think we’ve forgotten how much interactions shape our lives, how much interactions have become a part of who we are. I think we’ve forgotten how much we rely on each other, as a community that thrives and grows as one. We breathe as one, laugh as one. We’re alive as one. Well… at least we were. 

And I miss it. The sound of full playgrounds, children, and laughter. The sound of bustling classrooms and hallways, the sound of shoes on tile. The sound of voices and heated discussion. 

Quarantine has dragged on for 6 months, and as each month passes it feels as though time is turning into molasses. Time seems to stretch into forever and every day has somehow turned into an unidentifiable pattern of something that is much of the same. 

Secondly, reader, I hope you are safe. I hope this virus has not disrupted your life (and if it has, I can only pray that it will get better). I hope that tomorrow will be a better day. I hope that the elected officials of the United States make better decisions and that this year-long torment ends. 

I want to go back to the way things used to be, picnicking with friends on the glade or participating in Dandiya and Diwali celebrations on campus. As a senior, I realise my time at Cal is coming to an end, and while I choose not to think about it, the little voice at the back of my head nags me that these moments are fleeting, this time is wasted and life is too short. After my three odd years here, I know that I will miss it. Miss north Berkeley and farmer’s markets on the weekends. The traffic and bad roads. The views of the Golden Gate Bridge. I will miss the people I’ve met (and the people I haven’t). I will miss the conversations that have changed my life and my perspective. But mostly I will miss who I am (or was? Am I the same?). I will miss the young, curious, inquisitive mind, looking to learn. I will miss the frustration and anger and the growth as tough classes gradually get easier (and I grow a year older). 

But reader, as was once said in the Lord of the Rings: 

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. 

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

And those are the words that I chose to live my life by. Not out of choice but out of necessity of circumstance. I can’t control what isn’t in my hands, and perhaps it’s time to let go, if just a little. Of things beyond my control, and things beyond my capabilities. Tomorrow is a new day but today, for the moment, I will cherish what I have.

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