By Sabyn Javeri
Inside the bell jar, days turn into nights and nights into days, hours pass, minutes tick. There is a stillness inside that is reflected outside. The shadow of silence is deep as the world comes to a halt. The sky is bare and bereft. There is no golden halo around the sun, no silver lines of comfort in the clouds. Grief reigns supreme. The numbers chock up. An unknown enemy, a virus so small yet enormous in its contagion has stopped the world on its axis. There is a feeling of being stranded. Of abandonment. Bewilderment.
The clock stops.
Why don’t you?
Lay your heads against the smooth surface of the glass. Let your forehead touch the ice. Slide like a melting ice cube. Give in to not giving in. Let despair rise. Then fall.
Lay your head against the glass, watch the droplets slide.
Let hope disappear.
The globe spins. Even as the world outside the window halts.
Brought to its knees.
The virus is small, but you are smaller. Helpless, if you fight alone.
There is safety in numbers.
We are all alone. In this battle.
To win the war you have to lose the battle.
Solidarity is tested. Congested.
Isolation is contested. Thoughts of fears, creeping anxiety.
Away. Stay Away. 6 feet apart. Keep your distance.
They say it’s the only way to beat it. It jumps from person to person. It plays parkour with human lives.
But social distancing is not for everyone.
What about those who are alone in a crowd?
Are we together in our loneliness?
I am still. I watch the world go by. I brush my hair. I find joy in the mundane. The everyday. And then suddenly I don’t. I am back in the world of contact. Social contact. Human touch. It envelopes me in its warmth. The desire is too much.
I ask myself, is this a dream?
If you can be alone in a crowd, can you find company in isolation? I turn my attention away. Could solace come from the unfamiliar, the unexplored? Is there solidarity in singing from balconies? Can seeing someone on a digital screen make up for the warmth of the human touch? Can emojis replace the hug?
Dreams of four red roses, of climbing high, of breathing fresh air, mountain and lakes, faces without masks, half hidden, sliced in two by the silence.
Is stillness, then, a form of silence?
A hush descends. Is silence then a form of dialogue?
I am holding on. I don’t let go. Hold on to that sense of the past. Shadows linger. Memories rearrange themselves. All I can think of is the wind as it caresses my skin. But the glass separates us.
Unnatural. Dystopian. Surreal.
My limbs are lax. My strings rearranged as the puppeteer pulls and let’s go.
This life does not feel my own.
Disbelief is in the air.
A plague? In this day and age?
Orchestrated. Rearranged. Deliberate. Accomplice. Conspiracy theories rage.
I see myself outside of my own body. Delusion replaces illusion. I grasp for solidity. Lucid. This dream is lucid.
If only it was a dream?
I draw lines. Hover between dreams and reality. I swing like a pendulum. I reflect. I wonder.
6 feet under. 6 feet apart. What is the difference?
The view from my window is lonely. The voice in my throat parched. The furniture has lost its firmness. The sands no longer shifts. I am alone. Yet I am not alone. I am connected through my screen.
I am like a fly in a bell jar.
I can see the world but I cannot feel it.
Sabyn Javeri: I’m a writer and a teacher of writing. I’m a Pakistani British woman and I write on the themes of race and gender. My work has been published in Wasafiri, London Magazine, South Asian Reviews, Oxonian Review amidst other publications.