Fiction but Fact: A series made up of unfortunate yet surprisingly fortunate events

(Kevin Yin | Daily Trojan)

If the past two weeks haven’t been a series of unfortunate events, then I really don’t know what is.

As evident by the emails rolling in from the Office of the Provost, USC Housing, professors and club presidents, the second semester of my first year here at USC has taken a 180 degree turn. From moving out most of my belongings from my dorm room to canceling my flight to New York (goodbye Spring Break 2020), my anxiety has slowly begun to swallow me whole. What seemed distant and unconcerning to me and my fellow Trojans became a prevailing obstacle to the whole country. Named a pandemic by the World Health Organization, the coronavirus has become an international crisis affecting millions. 

Since my last article for this column was published, not once did I imagine that I would write this latest piece at the desk in my childhood home drinking a homemade iced matcha latte. But after Billie Eilish announced she’s postponing her tour and the NBA suspended its 2020 season, here we are right? All that’s happened these past few weeks just goes to show how fast circumstances can change. And despite how scary that might be, it’s OK. We will tackle whatever comes our way, just like the Baudelaire children did in “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” 

Lemony Snicket’s 13 novels follow the tragic tales of the three orphaned Baudelaire children Violet, Klaus and Sunny. Though they aren’t challenged by the onset of a deadly virus, they instead must grapple with their parents’ sudden death. After their parents die in a fire that destroys the family’s home, the siblings discover a letter addressed to them by their mother and father among the debris. 

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad,” Violet narrates. “All you have to do is look hard enough. And what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.” 

Her parents’ emphasis on seeing the best in the worst speaks greatly on the current global situation. As governments, doctors and organizations fight against the coronavirus, we must not forget that through this adversity we will emerge whole and tenacious. Similar to the way the outbreak of the virus has altered people’s lives in the span of days, the death of the Baudelaire children’s parents changed their lives forever. At the ages of just 14, 12 and possibly 1 (although undetermined), Violet, Klaus and Sunny are forced to navigate the ups and downs of the real world. The uncertainty of a promising future adds to their strenuous battle as they get passed around from relative to relative in each sequential book. 

Before delving into their story, I want to iterate that in no way do I intend to belittle the current situation and the threat the coronavirus poses to society. I extend my personal sorrows and love to those suffering in any way because of it. With China in the process of healing, Italy deep in the trenches attempting to decrease the death toll and the United States in the midst of policy uncertainty, countries around the world are uniting in the hope of alleviating the global health crisis.  

Yet with this tragedy, I urge you all to keep your spirits up. From having to escape the cruelty of Count Olaf, to witnessing their Aunt Josephine fall out of a large window and to encountering another tragic fire, the three Baudelaire children face the unimaginable at the turn of every page in the series. Having their fair share of near-death experiences, these children are the very definition of perseverance. In stark contrast, we have it much easier. All we need to do is practice social distancing and stay at home during this quarantine. 

This is not the end of the world. 

If the Baudelaire children could push through and survive the worst of circumstances, I believe that we are all capable of navigating through these trying times. So trust me when I say that we are all going to get through this rough, trying experience. We will take it one day at a time. 

In the meantime, take advantage of the isolation and give yourself the much needed time for introspection. The extra time that we seem to have on our hands is a blessing in disguise. It gives us the opportunity to grow in our relationships with not only others, but ourselves. It reminds us that after every difficulty, there will be peace and comfort. It teaches us to be patient. 

Fortunately, I promise you that together, we will endure this series of unfortunate events. 

Aisha Patel is a freshman  writing about fiction in parallel to current events. Her column, “Fiction but Fact,” runs every other Wednesday.