The blockade brought with it a lot of fear and anxiety. Can we live alone, trapped in our own little pigeons with unfortunate/happy people who have their family? Of course it was the fear of the middle class, not of someone who doesn’t have a house or who shares a room with five others.
For the past few months I was alone in my suburban home in Sonipata, near the university, met only a few friends from the neighborhood, walked around in the community and went to the local grocery store. Most home deliveries are now open, after an earlier phase of rigorous delivery. The maids came from Castle 3, although my gardener returned to his village in Madhya Pradesh. I don’t know when he’s coming back, if he’s ever coming back.
I discovered a new way of gardening and grew my own tomatoes, peppers, mint, lemons, beans and okra’s; guavas, cucumbers and melons are on their way. The long spring of 2020 in northern India was particularly charming when white and red roses, yellow, red and pink hibiscus, white, purple and pink bougainvillea, white African daisies and jasmine and multicoloured agazons appeared in my flower garden.
If I may say so, with a skewer of mushrooms, lamb and stew, fried fish, Maah-chicken and Kao Suei characteristic, I also made a storm. Mom used to call with recipes for the mullahs. You can’t learn the rest on your own in the Internet age?
Maaz Bin Bilal
The view from the ground was not limited to the kitchen sink, but threw itself out into the open beyond its limits. There he was fascinated by the gentle flight of long-tailed swallows, thieving black bumblebees, bright green bees, red wings full of tears that kept asking questions: Who did this? And the white chickens of the oxen, whose necks turned yellow at the beginning of the mating season. The skies and fields of Sonipat are full of bird lovers that I can mention, but you will wander off. Nilgai, hares, snakes, guard lizards, grasshoppers, frogs and herds of stray dogs offer other attractions. Some of them can be fed if you feel sorry for them.
Another time I taught online students. I have to say, I had no objection to this class. While teaching the classics, I rediscovered that Oedipus runs a plague town. He ruled a little differently than today’s world leaders. And I’ve written about it, the document is in preparation.
I rediscovered the letter by hand, with fountain pens; once again, many thanks to Amazon. Childish hooligans who have broken the tips of my pencils have been stealing this joy from me for almost two decades. I now understand that writing with the middle pen is much easier and infinitely more fun, and I write much, much more. I also wrote fiction for the first time in Hurdu Hindi. I wonder how much more I would have written in my own language over the past two decades if I had been a child with my fountain pen still stuck between my thumb and index finger. But the fountain pens have to be there, and that’s a promise. Take that, you losers.
The life of the middle class is good.
And even its involvement in socialisation can easily be lifted, as this blockade makes clear. Especially if you’re not married.
I don’t want to be here anymore. For I can no longer bear the apathy that such an apathy causes, which enables people to walk, cycle, hitchhike and hunger to die. People shouldn’t eat grass, cows should eat grass.
Some help I can provide electronically (while using the Internet). I’m not sure we’re allowed to pack. Of course we don’t have to do it because of the disease. Are we still at the local transmission level or have we reached the community stage, and is there anything left of the past? I’m from Delhi. Where exactly is the containment area? I’ve read that the hospital beds are running out.
Rs 499. Speaking tiger.
Will we ever be able to sing together in the Dark Ages? Em Forster wrote in Machine Stops about a time when people, even families, only came into contact with each other on computer screens. Black Mirror has also shown us many such mirrors in our lives lately. And now we’re having webinars. They’re odour-resistant. More sweat, more farts, but also musk and jasmine. It is possible that the demonstration will take place in Zuma. I wonder if that covers 144. We will express our Azad Bol or the words of freedom in virtual solidarity.
A new capital can be built soon.
I don’t think I want to see that.
Maaz Bin Bilal is Associate Professor of Literature at Jindal Global University. He is the author of Ghazalnama: Poems from Delhi, Belfast and Urdu (Yoda Press, 2019) and translator for the sixth Fikra Townswi River: India Section Journal (Talking Tiger, 2019).