Essentials of Living: Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia

Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia
A Survival Guide in the Pandemic-Stalked Times


A solitary solipsistic existence is mine
And yet strange are the ways of Fate
What I had adopted as the Will Divine
For myself, became a common state

Suddenly people were thrown in on themselves
As I have been for many long years
Just I, my desk, and my bookshelves
While people advanced in different spheres

When COVID 19 hit Planet Earth
Isolation became a challenge for most
And yet think of it: your home and hearth
Have always been there your presence to host

People starved for touch, for direct talk,
But how many really stopped to think
Of those who long ago took the knock
And were left alone to swim or sink ?

I came to the conclusion Arnold was right
When he said Man is in Life enisled
And mortal millions are out of sight
Of each other, Life a Sea, he styled

While I would not undermine in any way
The need for friends and family
I think we often give too much sway
To Man’s need for company

While we need Society and Community
My point is we need not be so afraid
Of being alone- it’s opportunity
To find the real substance of which we are made

We have endless resources within our own selves
And the internet of course gives us many more
But never underestimate your bookshelves
And stories of which you yourself are the store

The Time of Pandemic is Time to Adapt
A Time to tap each inner resource
And build it up so that it is apt
Even when COVID has run its course

Physical and Mental and Spiritual Strength
Are present in all to some degree
Now we should study ourselves at length
And grow even stronger, consciously

In brief, do not give in to loneliness
But enjoy the blessings of solitude
So whether or not circumstances press
Each one of us has the right attitude

COVID is a challenge: we have survived worse:
We should use it to build capabilities
Let’s turn into blessing this pandemic curse
And refine our sensibilities

For instance, learn compassion for those alone
Not out of choice but compulsion
Let each one of us care for each other one
Not give way to hatred or revulsion

And also find within ourselves that core
That makes us creative and fills us with joy
Let us learn how to turn less into more
And usefully every resource employ

Let us reflect more, sing more, write more,
Paint more, help more, be more kind
With others fight less, with our demons fight more,
Let us meditate more, strengthen soul and mind.

If we do this, a better human race we’ll emerge
From the pandemic, when it is over and gone
Let compassion and creativity surge
Then truly this battle we shall have won.


I had COVID, and Poetry helped me survive
Reading and writing and challenging myself
As soon as I was falling, I’d revive
Poetry helped me more than power and pelf.

This isn’t a story, it’s a statement of fact:
In April last, I was down with COVID
And yet, to lessen its impact,
Take rest and write poetry was all I did

Of course, I took tests and medicines too,
And acted upon my doctor’s advice,
But my faith in my own positivity grew
As Poetry descended in Angel’s disguise

Through fever and headaches I battled on
Wrote one two or three or four poems a day
And read many more, then settled on
What I would write the following day

Through my illness and my convalescence
Of thirty days, poems one twenty
I wrote, and I’m convinced in essence
This saved me, with God’s Grace in plenty.


Essentials for Survival haven’t changed much
Just become more important in these hard times
We need to acknowledge their value as such

We need social capital: nickels and dimes
Will not take us far: we need humanity
And we need art for the soul, our music and rhymes

At all times, but most now, it’s positivity
That keeps people going, and kindness, and smiles
We need to preserve our sensitivity

Remember, in hard times, unkindness most riles
But a helping hand people will not forget
This is no time to try cleverness and guiles

We need patience and perseverance the most
We need for ourselves and for others, Hope
Let no heart to despair play the host

With Faith, Hope and Love, together we’ll cope,
And beyond Survival, carve out fresh scope.

Bio: Amita Sarjit Ahluwalia is one of the various pen names used by Punjab-born, Patna-based retired Indian bureaucrat Amita Paul, for her original writings in different genres, in English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi, featured in various anthologies, journals, and online poetry writing forums. She was awarded the NISSIM International Poetry Award for 2019 for her contribution to English Poetry, and the Reuel International Prize for 2020 for Non-Fiction for her Experimental Prose plus Multi-Media Anthology, ‘The Saaqi Chronicles’. Destiny Poets, Wakefield, UK declared her Poet of the Year 2020, and also Critic of the Year 2020, an unprecedented coincidence. Her more recent work can be seen in ‘Impressions and Expressions’, a 2021 anthology of international poetry edited by Oman-based poet, Amita J.Singhvi, on Spillwords, in GloMag August 2021 and in the Yugen Quest Review, April and August 2021.

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