Chronicles and memories of a lockdown

At daybreak, a woodpecker sits aloft the majestic jamrul tree
The one planted by my grandfather, for whom my heart still grieves
He of the green thumb, among other things.
If trees were akin to people, would the branches set us free
Waltz through journeys, emblazon paths, while the leaves
Sashayed in the breeze, testament to our bruises, but metaphors for our wings.

During lockdown, I watch the trees in my house from a distance.
It has been ninety days since I last saw my friends.
The hundred-year-old Ashok Tree, with its gleaming foliage, fell without resistance
Cyclone Amphan screeched like a banshee for hours on end, ravaging nature, claiming lives,
Bringing life as we knew it to a circuitous bend

A loved one succumbed to the virus the week before
A week later, an inspiration died by suicide.
In Isolation, I read about the Spanish Flu- tales of lore
An unfamiliar life in lockdown was now as routine as the ebb of flow of the tide.

Millions died of breathlessness in hospital rooms
And some died while walking miles and miles to their villages, parched throats without a drop of water.
Jyoti, a fourteen-year-old girl was killed- a child with dreams, someone’s friend, someone’s daughter.
One George Floyd said, “he could not breathe.”

Closer home, Jayaraj and Bennix, two ordinary men
Could not breathe either. For keeping their mobile shop opened later
Than was sanctioned, and yet, a tiny little sunflower bloomed
In the same spot as the great Ashok tree.

Will we remember this time- a period in our lives
As an anomaly, albeit brief
Or will we look back in remembrance of the food we cooked
Of the books we read, the songs we sang, and the music we listened to
Stroking blades of grass as if it were hair.
A reimagining of the memories I held dear.
All the while governed by a palpable, underlying fear
Of a virus-ethically neutral and at once devastating
that collectively caused us inexplicable grief.

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