A Quieter Day

Random voices pierced the silence earlier this afternoon.
I walked out to the balcony,
and saw the BBMP men
out on the street.

They gestured wildly at me
and at all the others who had walked out
to see what the commotion was about.
Some of the BBMP men began shouting,
their words were inaudible.
I pinned it to the masks they wore,
though it might just boil down
to my limited knowledge of Kannada.

It did not take me too long to interpret their gestures.
‘Get in, and lock your doors and windows.’

I knew my interpretation was right
when I heard my partner latch the windows
in the other room.

Turns out we had acted just in time.
Soon I saw misty droplets
run down a window pane
and the odour of bleach
rammed down my nostrils.

In the last ten days,

there was no safer time to venture out than now.

I headed to the ATM,

walked past two that had been shut

before finding one
with a door ajar.

It looked like it had been abandoned.

It did work,

and that’s all that mattered.

A few hours later,
the kids in the neighbourhood
would have turned up for their daily game of badminton.
But no one appeared today.
They must have seen the men spraying the disinfectant,
and a switch must have flicked on somewhere in their heads.

I have not heard the man in the opposite house all day either.
All these days,
I had been hearing him talk over the phone
so loud
I felt I could participate in his conversations.

Not today.
Impossible as it sounds,
today was quieter than yesterday.

Is the silence a sign?
A sign of this being the new normal?
Are we running out of things to talk about?

Day 3 of the 21-day lockdown​ in India​


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