Friday, April 2020
Pause. That’s also what nights could be called, right?
Pause. From chores, work woes. From laundry runs, morning jogs. From budgets, deadlines. To put your feet up, close your eyes. To give in. To give your mind, the well-deserved rest.
I’m not good with pauses, of any kind. Especially the pause that we're all in the middle of.
I wake up feeling refreshed. It’s a Friday. We are both refreshed. We're also awake, a tad earlier than what we would on Fridays. On the Fridays we once woke up to, they seem to be a distant memory now. I do, what I do, each morning, head for my coffee mug. Just a few rituals, we’re grateful that we can still stick to.
It’s getting hot. It’s 38 degrees. Yet, I convince myself to sit outside, for a while. Until, of course, the sweat beads begin to form. Once, when we sat outside, with coffee mugs in hands, we looked forward to hearing the sound of Friday prayers. They soothed our week-long worked up nerves. Prayers said to the Almighty, irrespective of the language they're said in, have a soothing effect on us. They are powerful. Faith, in any form, brings calm. We're all burning out, shaken; faith is what will keep us going. We’re truly grateful, hopeful. The roads in front of us are barren.
"TGIF (Thank God, It's Friday!)," we would have said to each other, earlier. We would have made plans for a Friday. Now, we just look at the roads dotted with occasional bikes; the delivery men ensuring we get our supply of eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables, and detergent.
The real heroes are at work, Friday, or any other of the day. They're keeping an eye out on the beeping medical monitors, leaving their loved ones at home. They're wearing masks and gloves, making us believe in heroes, beyond capes. Their magic wands are of a different kind; the medical kind.
Further ahead from where we sit, we can see an expanse of water. It’s The World Islands. It, too, is calm, quiet.
The sound of the prayers reaches us, engulfing us. We draw comfort from the sounds. The mosques are empty, though. The worshippers are at home, safe.
“How must it feel? A space without the worshippers?” I ask my husband, "Empty walls, resonating the sound of prayers. The prayer mats awaiting the worshippers to return." "And, they will soon enough," he says.
It’s the season of togetherness, gratitude, forgiveness, sacrifice and faith. It’s Ramadan.
"Over the years, I’ve begun to look forward to the rituals of sharing meals, adorning homes with lanterns, and of understanding faith, which is different from mine, yet so beautiful,” I tell him.
We speak of foods and faiths, until we can’t bear the heat, and move indoors. When the evening sets in, the aroma of eggplant, lamb, and potatoes will fill up the air. Soon, the Power, the Soothsayer, the Faith, will tell us we did well. Our test is over. We passed. This is a game. “A game, and at least, Faith, is on our side,” I say, "We'll win."
At night, the angels will spray magic potion on the roads, to keep us safe. Whilst, we’ll pause, once again, and go to bed, knowing we’ve to keep those who are looking after us in our prayers.
Tomorrow, we will stand together as one, once again.
Saturday, April 2020...
Today, again, there was a spike in the number of cases. "Is death just a number on a headline," I ask him, still rubbing my eyes.
Next chapter, coming soon.
(P.S: Information on this piece: Purva Grover was one of the eight writers from the region, whose words made it to a special third-anniversary issue of Sekka Magazine, which documents the Arab world’s experiences with the #COVID-19 crisis through #art, #photography, #questionnaires with the readers.)