Chasing Death Drive in an Oxford Year

Death drive : n : A primitive impulse for destruction, decay, and death.

Walk in Christ Church Meadow. Do not code switch. Refuse to answer the old woman who cannot recognise her own tongue and demands you tell her what language you were speaking in.

Ask the little child by the kindergarten gate if the mud he’s eating tastes foreign. Take the morsel he offers. Contemplate whether you can swallow space.

Jaywalk. Press the X on the traffic light only to ignore it. Look at its blinking as mere suggestion. Contest with bus headlights as you wonder if your coat can catch wind. Pop a single earphone out to hear your boots race with your heart.

Go on a date on deconsecrated ground. Tell them there used to be a graveyard here once. Remind yourself that’s all of this city. Compare notes on headstone quality and pick the nicest one where you’d like to go. Tell your friends. Just in case.

Touch the induction hob to figure out if it’s hot. Poke your head into the oven to see if its lights are functioning. Leave your window open in admiration for the nesting False Widows and wonder how much spider silk shrouds would go for.

Wear riding boots over shoe-bitten toes. Entertain a perpetual cycle of blister-bump-skin-medical tape-blister-bump-skin-medical tape. Wiggle your appendages against a freshly hoovered carpet. Don’t unplug the hoover.

Cycle on the Radcliffe Camera cobblestones after sunset. Take the canal route home. Think back to that email about kerb crawlers. Stretch your neck. Look the Orientalist Institute Prince on Elephant in the eye. Wonder if the Gormely sculpture can see you from “Another Time”.

Go home. Contemplate the politics of home and ghar. Scribble Poetry. Be perceived. Pretend to be a social scientist, have your bookshelf look at you in judgement.

Take a nap. Know that the sun won’t rise for a while.

Azania Imtiaz Patel is an urban narrative researcher and a Rhodes Scholar (Brasenose and India, 2020) enrolled in the Modern South Asian Studies program at the University of Oxford. While she still refers to Mumbai, India as home, she is based in the Oxford, United Kingdom at the moment. 

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty