Of Answers Awaited by Anushree Srivastava

Science tells me that everything can be explained with logic and reasoning yet I find myself gravitating towards faith every now and then. What do I do when both, Science and faith, fail me?

My phone buzzes constantly until I’m jolted awake from a dream. Or was it a nightmare? Regardless, I go through each detail of the scene that was playing before me while asleep. My dreams have become more lucid of late. I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I am using sleep as an escape from the real life. I would not be surprised if others, too, are resorting to this form of escapism in a feeble attempt to survive each day with the grim reality around us. Sometimes I think that if I looked up at this very moment, will I be able to see a visible grimness in the sky too? Is there an obvious layer of solemn melancholy that has enveloped my nation right now? I then remember that the luxury of walking under the sky is a thing of the past. For now, I need to stay within these walls and break the chain, as they say.

After a set of early morning work calls, I jump into the shower. Once I step out, I can feel myself dreading what comes next. Per my morning rituals, it is now time for me to say a quick prayer before I resume work. What do I say now? This is the moment of the day that I have begun questioning. As a Scientist, I have worked to find answers to the many questions that plague our minds about life in general. I have worked on developing ways to find cancer, stop it from growing, or to ensure that it never gets a chance to dominate someone’s life. I have worked tirelessly to find preventive methods as well as cures but all along, I have held my faith close to me. As people of Science, we are of two main kinds- believers and skeptics. Being someone who belongs to the category of believers, I have always known that a point comes when Science throws up its arms and gives up the fight. In healthcare, people at this stage say, ‘we did everything we could’. This is because Science can only take you so far but, we, as humans, need answers beyond it too. For this and other reasons, we find solace in faith. Science does not have answers for what we call ‘miracles’. Why is it that two people with similar lifestyles and anatomies respond differently to the same treatments? We do everything that we are taught to do, examine the tiniest of cells, understand proteins, but we still do not have answers to why something works for a person but fails in another. If you work in the field of healthcare and other aspects of Science, there comes a moment that you resort to accepting the unknown. 

Humans were designed to be curious. We are always looking for answers and that has been the biggest propelling force that led to any scientific advancement. As I stand in front of the temple and prepare to say a little prayer, I am daunted by the reality around me. We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic and the exhaustion that we are facing on a daily basis is inexplicable. As a person of Science, I still believe that there is a higher power that guides us all. If not guides, perhaps simply watches us all. You may call it God or choose to not give it a name but there is something above our mortal selves that we look up to. I believe that it is this power that is present inside all of us too. In the Shiva Trilogy, a fantastic series of books by Amish, there is a part where Lord Shiva claims ‘Har Har Mahadeva’. I have grown up hearing this phrase but I had never understood it until I read this book. Simply put, this phrase implies that each of us is God. This is something that I have been raised to believe. God is within you and that is why you must honor Him by living with kindness, compassion, and truth. With this faith in me, I find myself at a moral crossroads when I see the suffering around me. A virus is wreaking havoc and bringing down unprecedented suffering in this world and I am unable to come to grip with this reality. Science is trying to find answers but we are still seeing statistics that send a chill down my spine. I look to faith to answer this for me and I cannot fathom why the supreme power that guides us all would bring us to this stalemate. What could possibly be a reason to justify any of this? I do believe that doctors save lives but I also believe that God enables them to. I would thank them both because that’s my belief system. I will believe if you tell me that this virus was man-made but that also implies that I must believe that God enabled a man to do this. I am left with no answers to bring me solace during this time when every moment of every day feels like a battleground. 

I bow my head in reverence and thank the higher power for every little mercy and blessing that comes our way. My heart feels unsettled and my curiosity is repressed. Everyone around me is dealing with this gloom in their own ways. Some resort to distractions, some others avoid all news, and others yet like me go through each day with regular moments of hopelessness and random bouts of crying at the suffering unfolding before us. Most of my days are punctuated with a recurring thought of ‘how are others handling this? How are people able to be okay? How does one live through this suffering without getting affected?’

I walk back up to my work desk and immerse myself in my meetings and tasks, hoping that by the time I am done for the day, I am too exhausted to think about anything else. I turn off the notifications on my phone so that I don’t have to look at the constant influx of posts, asking for bare necessities like oxygen for people who are suffering. Every few hours, I am still reminded of the current reality and I mute my audio, silently wipe my tears, and continue to talk animatedly because giving in to the pain is far worse than just trying to survive this gloom. Distraction. Avoidance. Hopelessness. In that order.

Once I wrap up work, I finish my dinner and the melancholic air lulls me into a slumber. One more day of living within these walls and hoping that we make it through.   

It’s morning, my phone buzzes constantly until I’m jolted awake from a dream. Or was it a nightmare?

Science tells me that everything can be explained with logic and reasoning yet I find myself gravitating towards faith every now and then. What do I do when both, Science and faith, fail me?