ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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love in the time of corona

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I take my mother’s hands off the table, and fold the washcloth into mine instead.

Some days it is a fragile thing and all I do is brush it gently, lovingly; some days I

can’t scrub hard enough. I take my mind out onto my hands,

Dancing at the tip of my bitten fingernails. On my mother’s birthday

I shoo her away from the kitchen and spend one sudsy hour with dish soap running

down my knuckles

And a little mountain of plates. I care about her more than I could ever care about

being clean.

It is these hands which fed me, which wiped away my grime and my sweat and my

anger. These hands which have taught me how to use mine, how to feed, how to help. How

to give. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all this clumsy love spilling out

of me

so I stroke my own hair instead. I hug a pillow to my chest and pretend this is the only

way I know how to be human

while the house clinically watches

silent like an animal sanctuary, or a

nuclear warzone, or the dead of night.

I wonder who taught it to dissect people so neatly.

I swear I didn’t do it this time

The dust in the air choked on its own.

It must have been the Djinns. I can tell you all about the Djinns. They’re

not very good at hiding.

At least when I stare a monster in the face for the first time

I have the privilege of novelty.

I learn how to be whole like

A peeled orange. I am transparent, and there are so many things sticking out of me,

Begging to make themselves known. I could feed and help and bleed all my life

But I don’t think this will ever be enough. I finally begin to understand why the

tongue I learnt as a babbling baby

doesn’t have a proper word for home, but

Hundreds of ways to give. I will do this for you. I will feed you. I will

keep you quiet.

My sister and I stand at our bathroom thresholds wringing our hands our voices tilt up singing

‘Happy Birthday’ twice over.

Multiple days a week, no one knows just how many. And like this

We let ourselves be reborn.

[Note: This poem was written during the onset of the second wave of COVID-19 both as a love letter to the author’s family and a testimony to the monotonous, choleric strangeness of being seventeen and housebound.]

 

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Updated On : 14th May, 2022
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