April 23, 2020

Writing in the times of lockdown - 2

(from my journal)

My fountain pen is acting weird and the world feels weird. Since I can’t change the world, I am changing my pen. But then, I am running out of ink in this Muji pen and I wonder how I will cope with not having a good pen to write with.

Sometimes, unnecessary things like pens really give you perspective. Here I am, lamenting about the lack of freedom to buy a pen from Muji when there are millions displaced and fighting for their next meal. It makes me guilty to be craving anything at all.

And then again, the will to live is, in itself, a manifestation of our desire to experience different things. So, I let my heart dream.

From Muji pens, it drifts to drinking a cocktail at a bar, sitting on high bar-stools, feet tapping to the feisty music a live band plays in the background. And suddenly, Neil gets me off my stool and we begin to dance. Twirls, whirls and some silly moves à la Pulp Fiction. And we laugh out loud.We go back to order another drink and reminisce about a trip we took, chattering on about all the great food we ate and sights we saw. There is laughter all around and squeals of delight erupt from the neighbouring table. A birthday celebration and a surprise. Someone else is singing along with the band. The bartender drops by to refill our glasses and we chat about how he too loves a White Russian. Something about the milkiness and the coffee flavours, he says. We high-five. Some delicious starters arrive and we stuff our faces.

Oh! To have this simple night manifest! Without a care or worry about how far everyone else is standing. Without masks and gloves and fear clouding our hearts.

Last evening, I was startled to see another human near the elevator.

Writing in the times of lockdown - 1

I have been having a lot of back-to-college dreams where I am happily walking through the paths of NID. I still long for the lush greenery, open spaces and large campus in my non-lockdown life, especially being in crowded Bombay. And somewhere in my dreams, to break away from this claustrophobic existence, I crawl back into those memories of the past and walk through the beautiful expanse of the campus.

But I think this doesn't stop with dreams. In my waking life, I retreat to known flavours of childhood in my cooking. Pavakka pitla, vengaya sambar, malabar parotta-kurma resurface. And the smells have a calming effect on me, reassuring me with the memories of carefree times.

And when I cook, I keep listening to mostly Ilayaraja (and sometimes, A.R. Rahman) on repeat. Music has been a huge part of my childhood. I grew up with the sounds of Indian music – predominantly listening to Tamil film and learning carnatic music. However, in recent years, I have been so busy that any music is heard in the passing or only on an occasional rainy evening. Now that time and thoughts are at my disposal, I yearn for the familiar sounds of childhood.

Is my soul crawling back to the familiar sounds, flavours and spaces that feel like a cocoon? I think so! This is my defence mechanism against the strangeness of the now. If you are experiencing a sudden pang for the sights, sounds and smells of the past, don't fight it. This is the time to just be and go with the flow.
© Dryad's Peak
Maira Gall