Being asked to enlist the best years of our lives, 2020 does not seem to have any chance to make it to most of our lists. While it was a year of cancelling plans, staying home 24/7 and just trying to survive, it is probably the year where all of us expected nothing from life except staying alive.
However, amid all these pandemic-induced hassles, some people refused to sit back. Just like Albus Dumbledore, the famous fictional character from JK Rowling's ‘Harry Potter’ series, says, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
Whether or not it was for this fictional character’s influence, some people among us really tried heart and soul to find the light, the happiness, in tough times. Saadot Md Habib, an undergraduate student of Dhaka University, is one of them. He initiated an online catering service with his mother Umme Habiba back in August, 2020.
Mrs Habiba loves to cook. But, it was difficult for her to manage time to pursue the enthusiasm for cooking after maintaining her family. During the lockdown days, she and her son both apparently got time and opportunity to sail on a new voyage.
“I just love cooking. Back in 2003, I even completed a course on cooking. And after 17 years, it has started paying me off now as I have started my own catering service,” said Mrs Habiba.
Fortunately for her, the housewife-turned-entrepreneur was able to see the other side of the coin and make use of the Covid-19 situation to turn it on her side. With swift planning, they began a startup that would deliver homemade food in Chattogram city.
Saadot left Dhaka in March, last year and since then he has been at his post city home. As he got ample time in hand, he thought of something that would make his mother happy.
“It was a sudden plan. I saw that a lot of online businesses started and flourished during the lockdown days. That inspired me to do something on my own. Since I live in Dhaka, far from my family, I thought this would be an opportunity to assist my mother in creating an opportunity to let her do what she always loves,” Saadot said to The Financial Express.
He also said that they got positive feedback from friends, family, and customers since day one.
Medical student Tajkia Sandhi had a sort of similar experience. She studies in China and the situation brought her back to the country in February last year. During the early days of Covid-19, she helped her mother start a catering business – something she had cherished to do for years.
My mother has been providing catering services offline for a long time. To make it more regular, I took an initiative to transform it into an official venture,” she said adding that now they remain busy with it all day long.
“It has been one of the greatest changes in our lives in 2020, especially for me, since it was getting frustrating at home with online classes and exams,” Tajkia added.
The pandemic brought endless leisure for the students. While most of them chose to spend it by watching Netflix and playing video games, some decided to focus on getting better at what they love to do. One such instance is Radman Hossain.
Radman is a DU student. He used to be an amateur photographer who had earned accolades for his photography skills for different campus events. As he was busy with his classes, tutoring and others, it was difficult for him to manage time for sharpening his skills. However, lockdown days gave him ample time to hone his photography skills. He even started trying out cinematography. At first, it was only about capturing and presenting life around his locality, since there were lockdown restrictions. After lockdown had eased, Radman tried out different subjects and shared them online. Success followed him soon. Within a short period of time, he started getting calls from people and organisations to work for them. He even got calls from the people who were his idols in this field of work.
“I can remember how I locked myself in my own room; scared and waiting for the good time to come back. At one point, when things seemed far from improvement, I got out with my camera and began working on new things,” he said.
An excited Radman also added, “It was so far the most productive year of my life. I worked, learned and gained so much that now 2020 has now become my favourite year – the year of becoming the better version of me!”
This is probably one of the positive things that the pandemic brought with it – pushing people to the edge. It forced people to look for new and better ways to live even when life was really at stake. It helped people chase their dreams when it was the last thing they expected from life.
Now that we are slowly advancing towards the post-crisis situation, things may get a little more challenging than 2020. Nonetheless, these stories from Saadot, Tajkia, and Radman show us that it is important to look for more because life has always something for us. These stories that we see around us, inspire us, make us happy, make us realise the necessity of pursuing happiness, even when the time is adverse.
Remember what ‘Forrest Gump’ says, “My mother always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Kazi Fatiha Binte Habib is an undergraduate student at the University of Dhaka.