As we are on the brink of ringing in year 3 of the pandemic, I am proud to say that I am fully vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19. But on the day of my booster shot last month, I did wake up feeling anxious about getting back to a post-pandemic normal life. After a few days of pondering over my strange reaction, here are some reasons why I think the idea of unmasking is not making me jump with joy. First, as a rule of thumb, I don’t jump or twirl. I literally can’t. I don’t have the balance for it. Plus, I am on an injury-free streak this year and have no wish to jeopardize that. Why am I not ready to set aside my masks yet? Because my husband has invested heavily in it and sacrificed a lot for the safety of our family. In March 2020, you may remember that all the world went crazy and hoarded up masks. It was hard to get our hands on any, but did I lose heart and wring my hands? No sir, not me. I immediately went online and ordered a shiny, new sewing machine and before it was even delivered, I got ready by cutting my husband’s many excellent cotton dhotis into small pieces. When the sewing machine arrived at our door the next day, it struck me that I had overlooked a small detail. I didn't know how to sew. Not a single button worth my spit. Still, all was not lost. I stored the machine inside a closet, placed an order for masks with a manufacturer in China for a small fortune and used up all the cut pieces of dhotis around the house as rag cloths. I figured the money I saved buying rag clothes would offset the cost of the masks from China. I love how these things work out in the end. And I am fairly positive that my husband has forgiven me for making koththu parotta of his dhotis. Every time I see the sewing machine in the closet now, I remember my husband’s sacrifice of his dhotis and consider wearing a mask a tribute to his generosity. After many months of meeting friends and family only on Zoom, I don’t know how I feel about seeing everyone back in full human form with bodies, arms and legs instead of just neck and up.I worry about not recognizing them. With good reason, I must say. A lot of my new young students have only seen me on Zoom. One such little boy knocked on my door with his father a couple of months ago wanting to get my blessings for Vijayadasami. He looked dazed and disturbed the entire 5 minutes he was here. He wouldn’t believe that I was the same aunty that he saw each week on Zoom. I had to finally glare at him with squinted eyes like I would in classes before he would give me a nod of acknowledgement. Do you know how much money I have saved from not going to beauty salons these past 2 years? I can probably invest in a small condo in Alaska in another 6 months if I keep up with this lifestyle. Why bother buffing and polishing when no one was going to see me? Yes, I scare myself a bit at times seeing my own reflection but hey, I throw a towel on the mirror and take care of that problem. I am afraid my rusty social skills need super heavy polishing before I can be pronounced fit to enter society again. In pre-covid era, I have a vague memory of curving my lips while meeting people. I think it was called smiling. The only expression that my face can remember to make any more seems to be a scowl. Know of a place where I can sign up to relearn basic social skills? The road ahead may yet be paved with uncertainty but today, let’s give thanks to the power above for keeping us safe from Covid these past two years and march ahead together in goodwill looking forward to a better and just world. May we all come out of this pandemic and live long, happy, and healthy lives. Happy New Year 2022 everyone.