The world is ending, my mother proclaimed,
when I called yesterday. She recited
a mantra, made me repeat after her.
Neighbours clap from balconies, we bring out
thaalis. Steel can clang louder. We have to tell
the heavens, we need intervention.
This virus has wings, deep desires to reach.
It has smelt dirt hidden under our nails,
sweat behind our necks. The helmet doesn't
breathe in tropical heat. But the grass is
still emerald. The munia on the angsana
looks happy. Should we be happy too?
I can silence these questions, push them
into oblivion, breathe slow, deep, into
the lump in my throat, but the munia isn't
on the bough anymore. Air is primal, heavy.
We excavate. They measure the cavity.
It has to be deep, very deep. Will it be enough
for us all to curl into? My birthday is in July,
but they ask us to sing the song twice,
forgetting early celebrations are a bad omen.
By Shilpa Dikshit ThapliyalQLRS Vol. 19 No. 3 Jul 2020