The clock strikes half-past five and I watch the seconds tick from the corner of my eyes. Time seems to go slower than before. The fault doesn’t lie in the clock but in what the world outside has to offer, a pandemic, keeping the world inside homes. I have lost count of days in the lockdown which seems like an eternity now. The curtains on the window nod slightly with the warm breeze of the summer evening announcing its arrival. The breeze pushes the curtains a little wide as if to boast of the freedom it has to travel outside, while I lay half-asleep on my bed which has grown tired of my unnecessarily long occupations.
Summer evenings for me have always been the times to go outside and play, with two months of the calendar having the smile of holidays. On busy days, I take solace in the excited voices of kids playing cricket in the next lane, whose view I can get if I crane my neck out of the window just enough not to get stuck. But the unforeseen conditions of this summer have prompted them to stay indoors and left my evening dose of chatter and friendly banter incomplete. I see a boy standing in the balcony of a building to my left, gazing longingly at the road below. Not playing outside seems like a small price to pay to stay safe. But sometimes even a small price can be a lifetime’s earning and sacrificing a major yearning.
I turn my head and find three buildings placed closely together which always looked to me like blocks of Lego pieces stuck together in an odd position. Two of them had gotten a fresh dash of paint in the recent past and now the three of them colored yellow, white and violet remind me of a mixed fruit ice cream. Ice cream is a yearning that I can’t give in to because of the risk of catching a cold, which has attained a lot of spotlight than it usually does. And it seems to enjoy the spotlight because it is catching on to more people as days go by.
I finally look at the sun in its eyes as it turns pleasant and orange while people slowly drag their selves on to terraces, their only escapes from the concrete walls they have built around themselves. It’s funny to see them walking in circles from a distance as it looks like a bobble-head parade. This sight is also accompanied by two women gossiping about their distant relative’s wedding while hanging clothes on the terrace to the right of my window. I listen with all my concentration focused on their words to catch the nitty-gritty of their conversation because they may become the subject of a new story I may write. This is an excuse I give to myself to eavesdrop on them for no reason. I occasionally get distracted by the aroma of pakodas from my neighbor’s kitchen downstairs.
Despite the grave situation we are in, it gives me a sense of comfort as people still find a way to maintain a part of the normalcy of their lives like gossip and snacks on a summer evening. In a world constantly changing, with so many rapid developments and events around us, it feels nice for some things to be the way they were. For a moment it makes me oblivious to the uncertain conditions that we have been living in for almost three months. The middle-aged man in the balcony beside mine rocking back and forth on his chair to soft tunes of old songs on the radio, without the worry of balls breaking windows, serves as a gentle reminder to what I said above.
The sun bids goodbye to a long day leaving the sky blushing pink and me wondering if my angst and sighs about how life is not normal and how I don’t get chocolates anymore are justified. I have a roof over my head and a meal three times a day, while the news speaks of lakhs for whom each day is a fight for survival itself. I watch the moon take its place with a yawn, certain that I would have another conversation with myself like this tomorrow at sunset. And as long as there is still a tomorrow, as long as the sun fulfills its promise of rising from wherever it sleeps and as long as we make an effort to keep the windows to our lives open, mankind will always keep writing the stories of hope.