It was still dark when I embarked upon ‘the Long March in Lockdown’.
The sound of my steps came through as if a bass guitar was playing in the background. Mr. Dead Cliff Burton was already awake, and was playing below the sole of my shoes. Elsewhere, there was deathly silence as in a recording studio, only strums filling the deep void.
In the morning arrives a moment before which there is complete dark, and a blink later, there is not. Humans might argue endlessly about when does this occur but birds just tend to know. Crows begin to caw their leads at this very point, tempting mynahs to join in with their rhythms and vocals.
Crows, Slash and mynahs, AXL Rose!
“Crows launch into fusillades of variable frequency of sounds,
Mynas hop about on their single legs and shriek in delight!”
Watch GnR’s Live in Tokyo if you have trouble imagining Rose as a mynah.
Cliff Burton has been dead for three long decades but my old Adidas pairs were busy at work, chapchapchapchapchapchapchapchap. There was palpable excitement in the air, and as it grew brighter, birds upped their tempo. They flitted around and fluttered their wings. They flew hither and tither, and sang frenetically. Were they songs of hunger or harvest? Of welcome, or of the possibilities?
“Walking at my own bass,
Cool breeze blowing in my face,
To the rhythm of birdsongs,
This is where I belong,
Nowhere else but here, right now,
This is where I belong”.
“If walking is bliss, it is……”
Such are the moments when epiphanies strike. I faced a barrage of petty questions.
I had a roof over my head where I could walk and indulge in fun and games. There were no joggers to be seen on the road. Morning walk had been outlawed. Birds cannot be locked-in. Their foraging was already underway. Who will feed those poor things if they are shut inside? Who will police the skies? Can the authorities manufacture a skynet? Is it possible to build a cage large enough to house all the birds? What is the population of birds in India? Are we not, the fauna and the flora, surrounded by a greenhouse, which is a kind of concentration chamber? What are troposphere, stratosphere, ozonosphere, ionosphere and exosphere, if not cages?
Early birds catch worms. Do late birds catch virus?
Do birds enjoy rest days?
For Sunday Sabbath, or Friday prayers?
A loud call of the Azaan broke through the melody. Some Maulvi was bidding them to reach the mosque but the Faithfuls did not dare step out. The danger was and still is real, China is on loose. China has gone berserk. China might kill you for the crime of breathing freely. The Commie state has forced the world to walk around with concealed identities. The Big Enemy, the small corona, lurks about everywhere, waiting to pounce upon the careless. Wear gloves, put on your masks, hide behind elaborate cover. Communism has infected millions across the world. This global fear of epidemic would have warmed the cockles of Trotsky’s and Mao’s hearts. Do not presume they did not possess these gadgets of circulation. The two murderers lived for long years and enjoyed robust cardiac health.
I walked and walked as the clock kept ticking and the sun rose high and breeze got warmer and birds flew away after songs and repast. Pedometer kept the distance. Every step was accounted for. I kept sweating like one does inside rock concerts. Silence loomed everywhere except in my head. It was almost as if I was in a Silent Disco. Roads were still empty and remained so throughout the day, week, month. No traffic, no vendors. Humans had taken back many steps and retreated into the relative safety and comfort of their homes.
I had rounded off the first leg of my ‘march’ and was contemplating upon being and nothingness, when mummy shook me out of slumber.
“There is no milk. There are no vegetables left in the house. You have avoided venturing out for far too long. A short trip to market cannot now be postponed.”
Nice mother, willing to send her son to fight against the invisible enemy. Chinese soldiers wear military khakis although why do they not wear red is also a valid question. Jihadis scream those three magical words before they strike. Corona virus hides in plain sight. It might be dwelling on lift surfaces, gates or car doors. Touch an infected vegetable and fall sick. Accept contaminated currency notes and bid goodbye to health. These Chinese secret agents can only be evaded and not be overcome by either stealth or force. There is no protection except in total soumission.
“Bring enough milk for seven days.
Buy vegetables to last a week.”
Hoard, hide and keep walking- with this motto in mind, I departed for a flying visit to the badlands to buy provisions.
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