365 days, counting and still locked down
The world around us might seem to be returning to normal or whatever version of normal we now have, but things on campus are just as they were this past fall semester. The hostelite and day scholar segregation continued. We returned on campus for the end-semester exams and just after the weekend, commenced the new semester.
It feels like we are in a time warp, leaving the campus as sophomores and coming back as juniors and now back to DL classes yet again, experiencing loss, isolation, canceled plans, frustration even gratitude for whatever we have to hold on to. This past year made us experience a colorful spectrum of emotions. Especially hard for the people staying on campus, unable to mobilize, away from their families and comfort of their homes this year has been a dark tunnel with no light visible at the ends. In testing times like these, when a connection is what we all yearn for, it was just the thing we were deprived of.
Meeting all our friends and class fellows in that week, getting a chance to see the remains of the old C1 daily, struggling to find a seat in Margallah, complaining about how Dreamville had too much sunlight, the forever hungry cats in NBS ground or even the vehicle exhaust in SADA parking at 5:30 pm felt nice. Just the nature of all the simplest mundane acts from waking up early, hitching a super tiring van ride to and from campus is what people like me craved this past year.
When we came back on campus on February 15th, the anxiety finals gave us made the air thick, but the thought of seeing our friends again made us look forward to even that day. Finals week passed. How? Well, it just did. For me, it was the following Monday I was particularly excited about. Then came the news from the Education Minister that all educational institutions were returning to full strength. Yeah, that’s where it went south for NUSTians. The world normal, but NUST not so much. Yet three weeks into the semester, we got an unscheduled “Spring break” which for NUSTians just means another two weeks of DL mode. Is it just two weeks though? We all can’t help but wonder. For hostelites, the upside is that most of them have been able to go home at least. The exception, of course, are the overseas students, who have been stuck in the middle of all the commotion and seem to always take the worst blow out of all. What’s worse is the unshakable intuition that things seem to be repeating this year.
Sometimes when all of this seems impossible, I remind myself of the initial three weeks that we were supposed to spend home: March 15th to April 5th. It seemed arduous then, probably more than it does now. We’ve somewhat become so accustomed to all this uncertainty that however more they throw at us we still feel resilient. But then a thousand breakdowns later, we want to see the dawn this darkness has in store. When all of it does end for us, we will come out of this scarred but stronger than we ever were. As Morrie says take a good cry if you need it, but then concentrate on all the good things that you still have in your life.