Solace

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ‘solace’ a lot - and I feel so fortunate to be teaching subjects like Literature and History during the present pandemic. Seeing ourselves as part of the larger continuum of human experience, and knowing, through the poems, novels, plays, and historical moments that we encounter together, that people have lived through great upheavals before, and made “beauty out of sorrow”, brings me comfort.

When our classes first moved to this new medium in March, I felt sharply the loss of being together with my students in our classroom at the Valley with our old blackboard and all that colourful chalk. But as the pandemic has dragged on, I am increasingly grateful for the opportunity to continue to do meaningful work and create vibrant spaces where we can be together albeit in a digital classroom within the new Valley landscape.

It’s an oddly intimate thing to reach inside each other’s homes through our screens and to be a part of each other’s lives during this cataclysm. I appreciate the rhythms of our classes - as we examine a poem or unpack a novel, pause to consider a historical moment and its parallels today - sometimes I forget all those little black boxes on my screen and only see familiar faces and brightly lit eyes. Being with my students, anywhere and in any medium, is a source of joy!

More than anything else, I hope my students too have been able to find some comfort and happiness in our classes over the past couple of months as well. What else is there!

Indus Chadha believes we cannot exist or be understood without stories and spends much of her time reading and writing them. She earned a BA in Women’s Studies and English Literature from Smith College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

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