Usually, when I type a mile-long email to a stranger, I introduce myself like so: “Hi. My name is Ravi Tej Guntuku, and I am a 9th grader at Lake Travis High School” or “Hi. My name is Ravi Tej Guntuku, and I am on break, so do not utter a word about school”. However, such an introduction is not necessary to you, 2020, for you know me all too well. You are the inhibitor of friendly congregations, the instigator of mass job loss, and the darkness of the night sky. But you are also the blood that powers my brain, the candle of togetherness, and the light of the sun. Before you are thrown out from chronos’s palace and ripped from the memories of humanity, I want to return the value that you have given me, so if you get a chance, I plead you to read this letter.
Quarantine, coronavirus, death tolls, protests, job loss. You’ve probably heard these provocative words at one point of time, for these are the adjectives that the world uses to describe you. The pandemic you created, COVID-19, is the primary reason I was forced to sit all day long in a brick-and-mortar box surrounded by blank, white walls, unable to venture past this opaque container to breathe the fresh air furnished by Mother Nature for almost three months. Even if we are to venture past our houses, you instituted that we should all wear multilayer masks, disguising our faces and hiding our true selves. You deflated the balloon that is the economy, costing the jobs and lives of many.
But 2020, are you really the darkness of the night sky that many presume you to be? Do you deserve to be banished from time itself? Even though you physically separated us all, you mentally brought all of us together through video calls, social media, and instant messages. Each time I video chat with my closest comrade or ring my family in India, I always wear a smile on my face, knowing that I should cherish my time with these special people in my life, now more than ever. Twenty-twenty, you blessed us with a golden palace filled with enormous windows and large corridors that is our first house. During your tenure, I dived into the immense world of information technology and completed quite a few certifications in this area, including the Python associate programmer certification. Additionally, the resources that you shed light on paved the path for me to empower other students my age to program their way to the future. In this unprecedented and pandemic-enfolded year, I started to introspect myself and tried to piece the puzzle of the world with just a pen and paper.
One day, my father enlightened me about “the worst year to live in human history”. Even though I was confident that 2020 definitely won the prize for “the worst year in time”, I asked my dad to elucidate on this topic. He simply stated a three digit number: 536. It was a year when a fog plunged most of the world, a year with no sun. During this time, the once green and ever-growing crops immersed into the darkness, and consequently, many people starved without the gifts furnished by these plants. After envisioning this fog-enfolded year of the past, I thank you 2020, for letting us absorb the sun’s majestic light. Newspapers and TV-networks may endlessly complain about you being the rotten apple that ruined the lives of many, but I wouldn’t pay too much attention to their commentary, for the media nitpicks and defames the rotten apples in a tree. Twenty-twenty, I thank you for allowing me the value of my friends and family, the oxygen that you let me breathe, and lastly, my two fabulous parents who never cease to put a smile on my face. This letter may have tasted like a bittersweet chocolate, but it contains a powerful and undeniable principle: my version of the truth.
Ravi Tej Guntuku