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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 49, New Delhi, November 21, 2020

No New Words | L K Sharma

Saturday 21 November 2020

by LK Sharma

Social Distancing!

Two Words
Two Worlds
Two Faces.

Two Words.
Not new to me.
Inherited these.

These are in my
blood. I distance
myself from the
Other, instinctively.

These got engraved
in my mind as I saw
Dalits and Brahmins
not eating together.
Men and women not
sitting together.

By colour code,
I can make out the
faces of two types

When I grew up and
began to show signs
of nonconformity,
I got quarantined.
I became the Other.

It has been like that
for a very long time.

Even the one who
sustains me with
pills and potions,
comes close only
in the realm of
imagination. She
delivers remotely
the daily dose of
life-saving drug
through posts
and sound files.

Keeps herself safe
from me in my jail.

They warn me.
Never touch,
breath alone,
not together.
Go that far and
no further.

They say:
We are watching
lest you get sullied
and soil others.

You must remain
uninfected and
alive, bodily.

For that you have
to kill your heart
because the disease
begins there!

If you disobey,
you will set a bad
example for others.
All will get inspired,
forward your
titillating tale and
spread the virus.

He will come out.
She will come out.
They all will come out.

The multitude will
march waving
heart-shaped flags
and shouting: It
has its own reason!

And that will be the
end of the world
that we shaped
so assiduously by
cleansing it of the
tendency to love
and injecting hatred.

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