In the morning, I venture on a surreptitious stroll. Prisha and Elora still asleep, the eggs in their makeshift hatchery, the cat tired after birthing four kittens, and Poet still in his basement, I open and close the doors silently. The breeze blows heat already. The street bears the burden of people violating the lockdown in herds. Near the Jain temple south, people from the outskirts have built a temporary market.
People in singlets and shorts or vests and trousers sell green mangoes, watermelons, cabbages, and sweet potatoes in tiny netted sacks to people extending their hands through the rolled down windows of their cars, and to the people like me, jogging, strolling, stumbling, startled because he has never come in this place this early and has not encountered a crowd since the outbreak.
I want a break from Poet’s story and my thoughts, find a bench in the park beside the temple, and the park seems empty because of its vastness, and its dust clouded meadow as its midriff.
I need cuppa tea but dare not tug my plague mask down for a sip. The traveling tea-seller goes ignored, his tin cage of fire and his utensils jingling-jangling. I close my eyes to a memory of when I used to work as a half-hearted legal representative at a collapsible furniture maker.
I remember a summer we duty-travelled to Japan. I and my business companion were welcomed by a man named Morita who owned a faux-monastery/resort. I keep staring at the toggle the man from the east wore. It sported a rabbit riding the turtle it competed in the fable. While we agreed upon the business terms the summer breeze threshed the adolescence of the nearest maidenhair tree, and Morita told us, Ginkgo trees are ever-youthful, survives hundreds of years, and that we should eye for the long run of our business. I kept my eyes on the Ginkgo that would redeem its grace before the sunrise next, and on Morita’s swaying netsuke, the toggle, the rabbit-on-the-turtle ornament hanging from a sash of his kimono. The rabbit asked the turtle about the pace of their progress; they nodded together that they would finish in the same chronotope, within their lifetime, and that eventually, earth would move on to other races.
I close my eyes.
Morita reminds me –
to meditate one must keep his eyes open.
I wonder how those eggs Elora gathered will open and what will emerge from it. Not for a single moment I doubt that our artificial hatching may fail. How much I may meditate I can never be balanced, aloof to hope, or angry because I feel hopeful about something that does not happen the way I imagine it should.
Photo Nick Victor