While My Guitar Gently Weeps

“*Alarm clock rings*

Woke up, fell out of bed

Dragged a comb across my head

Found my way downstairs and a drank a cup

And looking up I noticed I was late…”

Oh wait! I’m no more late… neither do I drag any comb across my head these days; I often look homeless in my pajamas inside my home surrounded by the digital world- yes, the world has changed too soon in a bat of an eye; everything shut down overnight leaving the streets empty and hollow with neon lights fading at the end of each lane… What a notorious time! With the spread of the virus, the schools and colleges got closed leaving the students and the teachers behind the cemented walls trapped in the web of the online world…

I flew to my country back in March, 2020 when the pandemic hadn’t started yet hoping to be back by twenty days until I found the entire world going upside down in the giant wheel’s ride of this vexatious COVID-19 virus! Well, how long could it be… one month, two months, well maybe three months… and with full swing we started the online classes; you don’t have to walk into the classroom with a marker in the hand; no need to worry about getting dressed- just wake up, show up, get prepared with a lesson and look into the virtual classroom through the mundane window of your laptop screen… And probably get an eye check-up when the pandemic is over… maybe… maybe?

…And then time trickled down like water flowing from a broken tap with its slow, monotonous pace across the bathroom walls… Online teaching kept on rolling down my laptop screen, and with each day I started missing the hills and the little minds hidden behind my virtual classroom would sometimes show me the mountain peaks from their real windows into my virtual window- a feeling of sudden joy with a heavy heart would wrap me around- are the hills calling me or am I craving them?

They all want to go back to school now with all the footsteps of nostalgia and laughter of joy that they left behind right in their campus before this massive change took place. No matter how much modern this online teaching is, I’d say, it’s as cold as the frosty frozen meat found in any corner of a freezer! There’s no human to human connection- no eye contact, just a plain glass covered screen making human beings anti-socials. The teacher doesn’t tip her marker cap at the naughtiest last bencher eating some fruit cakes out of the tiffin box in class hour; moreover the students eat and the teacher too has a cup of tea behind the screen… there’s no blackboard, no window to gaze outside and get distracted in between class lectures, no uniformed jokes where the class laughs together- no concept of classroom at all- just our own rooms- just the daily usuals around and mere words and phrases tapping the laptop screens and flowing through several earphones across different worlds…

“Words are flowing out

Like endless rain into a paper cup

They slither while they pass

They slip away across the universe…”

Is online teaching a challenge? Well no- not really; coping up with the humdrum situation, waiting for good days and hoping for a better world around us, is challenging. Every human being is going through this awfully run-of-the-mill situation. It’s not only us, the teachers, but I’m pretty sure the situation isn’t any better with the little humans on the other side of our virtual windows where the young minds wait eagerly to go back to school and scream and shout under the open sky like free birds…

Free birds… free birds? Are they even free or just living the utopic freedom when they are in reality chained to the vastness of the sky?… Human life is as futile as the word ‘freedom’ which has no value and could be turned down to ‘boredom’ just in a jiffy by a small microscopic virus that cannot even be seen with open eyes. With all the teachings we receive, and we pass on, do we actually contribute any goodness to the world full of void we live in? The world is sobbing and asking for help; in every corner we see poverty, hunger, brutality, greed and discrimination among us, the xenophobic beings- the virus showed us our true place in a way and how to maintain distance and break the chain of so called uniformity. We’re nobody but sinners living a cursed life amidst false happiness. No matter how many masks we buy to hide our faces now, this virus has taken off the real mask from the dark society we live in. As teachers we have a lot of work to do- to teach our students about making the world a beautiful place- but all we see that humanity is slowly diminishing even after all the great teachers were born all around the globe; not to blame us, it’s the sinful gene that we carry in our DNA strands and such pandemics would keep coming to us as nature’s way of punishment; showing us that we’re mere puppets in the hands of an invisible power drifting our ways in the dark, dark world…

“All the lonely people

Where do they all come from?

All the lonely people

Where do they all belong?”

Nevertheless, this virtuality is our new reality. Even though we all miss our physical presences, real classrooms, canteen fun, and students running here and there around the school campus, we’ve to accept the fact that online classes have become an absolute necessity. The pandemic has already taken over humans with advancing technology where emotions have taken a backseat behind the artificial world; and with it, paltry politics have taken our issues making our lives more miserable in these trying times- I call it, ‘the dark age’; The dark age of humanity has arrived!… Despite of all the dark matters, the human gene is also something that has never learnt to give up. We keep trying to come out of terrible times until we could call it our victory with contentment… And ‘while my guitar gently weeps’, I’d say, maybe, we’re exactly where we’re needed to be- to know ourselves better; to work on things, ever pending; to know our creative abilities; to read; to write; to hide and to get up again to show up to the world that we can… that the sun rises again after every dawn and we’ll rise and we’ll shine, no matter how lost we are right now…

“Here comes the sun, and I say

It’s all right…”

 

– Pallabi Chattopadhyay

English Teacher

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