Haven or Hell

I wake up and it is time to exist again
Exist, I say, for in this state of slumber
I may have forgotten what living is.

But I am cunning, since I can trick my mind,
Into a false sense of purpose.
The walls of my room, seem to close in, filling the air with mist
Determined to be productive, I make to-do lists.
Chores. Goals. Meetings and more
A reason. A meaning. A shore.
Anything, that makes me want to wake up tomorrow.
I dress for the camera, get out of my pyjamas,
I smile and laugh, aren’t I good at this drama?

But what should I say to the little girl next door,
who doesn’t eat anymore. Her mother worries
As she longingly stares out the window,
“Why can’t I go out to play anymore?” she complains.
She wonders if she is being punished.
She misses the company of her friends,
Her eyes remain fixated on the blue light from the screen.
How does one explain to her what lockdown even means?
She throws a tantrum, she refuses to read,
she wistfully peers out the window
hoping, counting the vehicles on the deserted street.

How do I console my grandma, who cried when the case count increased
Do I call her selfish, her tears were not for the deceased,
But for her evenings in the park, now a thing of the past.
How do I blame her, as she weeps in her wheelchair,
Glued on the bed, staring at the ceiling, all she knows is despair.
I hide her indoors, for I have experienced first-hand
What ignorance can do to a locked-up man.

I went for a walk one day, I was showered with abuses,
For putting people at risk and for being irresponsible
I tried to reason with people, but my voice was too feeble.
The voices of my other neighbours screaming
Pierce through the walls.
As the middle-aged couple get on each other’s nerves,
Being stuck together perpetually, may lead to a change in their hearts,
They may break the promise of “till death do us part”.

We bake breads as a form of therapy, I suppose
But it doesn’t last long, for we are scared
to step out when we run out of flour for the dough.
As the count keeps climbing, my heart trembles
not just for the ones that are gone
But for those who remain behind closed doors.
For the nights blend into days,
Smiles and laughter continue to evaporate
The playgrounds are as quiet as the graveyards.
The mind can be a dark place, and for some,
home isn’t a safe space.
Physically, I shield myself and my loved ones behind closed doors
But I fear for our minds, our hearts, and our sanity
am I wrong for wanting a little more?

Sneha Pathak is a young investment banker by profession and a poet by passion. She loves reading, writing and sketching. Her work has been published in eFiction India, Ashavmegh, Hindustan Times, and Terribly Tiny Tales. You can read her blog at awordseeker.wordpress.com.

Featured image credit: Jose Ignaceo Pompe/Unsplash