History Book by Anjali Bhavan


Art by Rohan Rathod

These days, as the world falls over itself and Twitter erupts, I have taken to gardening.

As my countrymen live between spewing venom and cycling 2000km, I plan gifts for friends.

I plan on applying to grad school. Marrying.

Buying a big hairy dog and a black cat I’ll call Fred.

Living through 2020, without the specter of disease lurking over my eyelids.

Sometimes, it is easy to be wilfully blind. To cut greater hedges between you and the burning, cracking world.

To enclose yourself in a tinier bodily circle by the day.

It is often easy to slip into, like a costume made of shimmering water.

But there are other times when I wake up,

scratched by the cries of a baby

whose mother died walking 600km to reach home.

She with back bent from bricks, throat parched like our lack of heart.

The baby will live long enough to see its mother’s body go viral and collect Thoughts and Prayers.

There are days when I choke at the thought of ever having a future, ever living past 22, ever living beyond college.

How lucky my parents, my grandparents,

that they will be long gone before even the land abandons us,

before the virus seems like a tiny blip amid an archipelago of problems.

How they wilfully sit through this pandemic, thinking that everything will go back to normal

As it always has. This is 2020, after all.

Things always get better with age, or we forget about them.

But too much time has gone by, too much water mixed with melancholy.

Too much has been seen, gassed, burned, amputated, sliced, impaled.

The world is a history book being written in the blood of the neglected.

I want no part of it.


About the poet:

Anjali Bhavan is a student, writer and software engineer. She likes to read, play Stardew Valley and worry too much about things. Her work has previously appeared in FirstPost, The Hindu, The New Indian Express and others. Her website is anjalibhavan.github.io/


About the artist:

Rohan Rathod is a practising advocate from Pune who paints in his free time. He is mainly a portrait painter. You can follow him on Instagram @advrohanrathod