Still nights have become quieter and a city that never slept has resigned itself to a stillness filled with fear. Dreams are mirroring the stagnation of days and the days are endlessly turning, recoiling from everything that held a familiarity to living. Some say this may be the end of the world while others insist a new world is evolving. If it is the first then one has little to do but wait inside disinfected bodies but if it is the other then one is helplessly at the mercy of what that new order will be. Will we ever touch each other again? hold hands of those we love or brush off invisible dust while touching a friends shoulder? Those endless conversations over tea at the dhaba where we would contemplate the future of our dreams have been shut down. The bun-kabab wala has left for his village. The khokhas have closed…the city died and no one came to its funeral.
The new world order ; you have to roll it on the tongue to say it so you get used to it like saying 9/11 took the longest to get acquainted with the asian tongue.
The new world ; what will it be like? Will sunsets always be virtually shared with strangers on Instagram and these argumentative thoughts be decided on Twitter from now on? Give virtual hugs and do zoom medications to ease the anxiety?
Fear. It is a multilayered word which digs its fangs into the depths of one’s being; the more the body fights it, the deeper it embeds itself.
It is May 2020. We have been in a limbo for three months now. The strongest have become weak and the faithfuls have become staunchly. No one is right anymore and neither is anyone wrong. Living in an upended city, halted by fear, everyone is waiting for mercy. The question of who will deliver this mercy is of no significance in these dystopian times, as long as mercy comes. It could be god, godot, or a vaccine. we all look at the bluest of skies and cry at the beauty that looks back. For a few moments we find relief in the birds and the skies, the trees and the butterflies that have returned but then we cry at the misfortune of not having the allowance, the permission and the lightness of being, to go out and walk freely.
It is not the elements we fear. It is our own kind that provoke fear and we squirm, step back and recoil when someone comes near.
Some of us will die of the virus, others will die of hunger but the absence of touch and the presence of fear will kill all of us.
The morning after the lockdown was announced the city gave birth to a new one. It was a stillbirth and no one heard it and no one buried it. The stench now lives in each one of its inhabitants mortifying life, cheating on death.
we all wait hopelessly for mercy in a city that died of fear.
Dee is from Lahore, Pakistan. Loves dark nights and old trees.