Within the crevasses of one’s mind, the mind that longs to be in the open, unmasked, all in thoughts, words and deed, the lockdown suddenly descends.
A lockdown that our souls have imposed upon themselves. I don’t know how to define it. Definitions are at times extremely slippery.
Sometimes as gruesome as the plane crash at the Kozhikode airport. Our minds too at times run off the table-top runway, when our focus is affected.
The mind seems to resemble a book that lies exposed to a scorching sandstorm with its pages flying and the bookmark slides away. Where is the tag mark within us about days and schedules?
Life now resembles the game of ‘musical chairs’. We scurry on to remain in the game, make immense efforts to grab that chair which is probably a metaphor for surviving the pandemic both mentally and physically, as we pray silently that there should be enough chairs so that one can linger on, undefeated
All the while, unknowingly, the closed front door is a recital of times gone wrong. Will there be something to look forward to, some cause for the effort you make to place the vase of flowers on the dresser. Do you feel the need to apply a little kohl to brighten your eyes, to peer at that world that can’t see that smile hidden beneath a mask?
Just a couple of days back my cousin had her dinner with her folks at home, and then retired for the night. She readied her garments to be worn the next day after bathing as a force of habit.
And then what went wrong? She just couldn’t breathe. It was so easy for fate to walk in through the front door of the house, bringing death in tow. And she was gone. Her son and husband looked on.
Life and its music
No expression was there on that face that loved to laugh, to sing, to jabber on and on with life and its music. Who had helped enact this drama in a house where there was just no cause for grief. She couldn’t bear the stress due to the pandemic. Hence the cardiac arrest.
And the lockdown that is imposed within, smiles, “I too am at my wit’s end. It is not an irresistible situation to be an unwanted presence. I bemoan my lot and yet I need to stay. Like mankind I too have my timespan. Errr...I meant lifespan. But I shall leave as the saying goes, what comes shall have to go.”
I argue, “Yeah, but you’ll leave grief in your wake! Playing havoc with minds!”
Quick comes the repartee, “Oh come on, grief is the background colour that’s constantly on the palette. You love and so you weep. “
Well, these are my musings with a locked down soul within, even while trying to distract oneself with writing, stirring up storms in the kitchen, researching on the ‘begums’ of the Mughal empire, delving into songs written by Rabindranath Tagore and reading Alice in Wonderland from a whole new perspective.
Our many heartbreaks
The joyous face of a father posing with his two-year-old daughter at Dubai airport for the last time, before she boards that fateful flight to Kozhikode cannot just be swept under the carpet.
It takes a heartless being to do so. As I look at that picture, I learn that a friend’s sister is in the ICU, unable to breathe, stricken by the novel virus. The first impulse is to pick up the phone and speak to her.
She was in tears, worried and woe-begotten. The only assurance I could give her was that prayers can achieve miracles. The sister’s family was one family that religiously took every precaution on the book to ward off the infection. So how did this evil virus sneak in? When do we get our answers?
Life now resembles the game of ‘musical chairs’. We scurry on to remain in the game, make immense efforts to grab that chair which is probably a metaphor for surviving the pandemic both mentally and physically, as we pray silently that there should be enough chairs so that one can linger on, undefeated.
Well, as it all gets “curiouser and curiouser” I know that when all this is done, back home we will steer, like a merry crew, beneath a rising sun, as Lewis Carroll would goad us on. Till then sit with that loved one in the dark, on days when she/he cannot see the bright side and be the loving light.
— Navanita Varadpande is a writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @VpNavanita