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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 47, New Delhi, November 7, 2020

Lockdown Lyric | L K Sharma

Sunday 8 November 2020

by L K Sharma

Going out is ruled out. Sit at
home. Look not touch.
Not even your own face.

Moving images seen. Cries
heard. Eyes wiped. 13th
WhatsApp exchanged.

It is 5 PM, 4 hours since
easy-to-cook dish was
made and had.

Meal-in-a-minute packets
will be finished before the
lockdown ends. Then what?
We shall see.

Time for tea. Squirted a drop
of milk from the semi-frozen
pouch. The RO tap runs,
water boils. Tea with what?

Opened the fridge again,
found the hoarded paneer.
Took the remaining gram
flour from a pre-lockdown
packet.

Cooking oil running low
but enough for a week.

A sigh escapes into the
frying pan. Thanked God
and admired one’s foresight.
Tea plus hot pakoras, just
like the normal times.
The evening was made,
made for the High Tea
Ceremony!

The embers of feeling get
drenched by tea drops.
One needs to feel again.
That is the done thing
these days when one is
tied to arm-chair and not
required to open the door
to any visitor.

No one comes. Not a
shadow seen passing by.

So, one spares a thought for
those walking barefoot on the
endless road, seeking food
and dignity in life.

The others, sitting on sofas in
well-appointed drawing rooms,
chatter about dignity in death.

Dignity? A matter of coat
and waistcoat or that of not
being seen walking without
shoes. Such thoughts are
injurious to health.

It is time to draft and
Forward moving messages
to hear them say he writes
so well. His pen bleeds.

Time to exchange anguish with
those who do WhatsApping at
this late hour and justify their
existence by viralising many
moving messages.

They have missed maids,
drivers and table butter for
several days and nights.

They are getting used to cooking
themselves. They have simple
meals. Rich dishes do not adorn
the table any more
They are worried sick about their
friends who went on a holiday in
Rome to visit galleries, see sights
and do shopping.

They were to go on to the US,
visit their single daughter who
invited them to check-out her
new all-American boyfriend
and demonstrate a recipe taught
to her mother by the grandmother.

Time to have another look at
the videos of re-migrating
Indian families struggling and
collapsing on the road and be
reminded of the hungry, tired
and fearful young mothers
carrying babies, fleeing during
the distant Tutsi-Hutu wars.

Then it is time to wait for a
Goodnight WhatsApp from
any friendly soul who feels
free to remember me. And to
dread the sleepless night,

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