There is a crack in the wall
I scrape it with fingernails
Chipping out a bit of paint
I feel the plaster crumbling;
Or is it just brittle cuticles
From a hand tired of gnawing
At barriers mocking me with
Promises of light and warmth
Beyond the dent in the enclosure
Sapphire figments of fantasy
Dark as the indigo velvet night
Embedded in slivers of argent light
Lying on my bosom like ashen fire
Ebb and flow of each breath
Heave and sigh of the chest
Life moving in glossy rhythms
Of soulful music from the depth
Here is a lockdown story. In July 2020, when the lockdown was slowly being lifted until 8:00 p.m. the husband and I ventured out in the car to shop around for a new bicycle for the son. It was an uneasy feeling. There was police force all around and people were roaming without masks in the suffocating summer sizzle, congregating around juice counters, and paan shops.
It was already 7:45 p.m. and the fear in the air was comingling with the viral threat. Police personnel on motor bikes were ordering roadside hawkers to shut shop before the 8:00 p.m. curfew. There was this tired looking man carrying some plants on a rickety bike. I could hardly see what plants he had. I noticed a curry leaves plant that I wanted, even though I had already ordered one from NurseryLive.com.
I hadn’t got out of the car until then, considering that I fall in the comorbidity category but something clicked and I went and bought this plant from that person. I asked him to keep it in the car trunk. He handed me some change and I was so afraid. While I fumbled for my sanitizer bottle, a policeman was hitting his lathi on the poor man’s bicycle. He quickly scuttled away.
It was dark. I hadn’t checked the plant quality. I wasn’t bothered. I just wondered how these daily wagers and people without regular income were making ends meet. For around 10 days, I watched the curry leaves plant settle in it’s new home, while I also kept a watch for Covid symptoms.
In September 2020, our State opened on weekends; until then we had weekend lockdowns starting Friday, 9:00 p.m. When the lockdown was finally lifted, there were no feelings – what to do with the opening up, where to go? But if we don’t go out, poor people like that plant seller, for whom hunger was a bigger fear than the police, than Corona, will continue to suffer.
We are a developing country. Though we also have some of the richest businesses in the world, a majority of our population struggles to make ends meet. These poor people are the ones with the biggest hearts. That evening, that plant seller on a bicycle gave me a healthy curry leaves plant for just Rs 60/-. Today, it flourishes and provides, and may it do so for a long time.