by Samia Altaf
“Will we survive this?” my husband asks me as we lounge around the living room, glued to our laptops. “We are in the vulnerable group.” I look up at a bald man with thinning gray tufts over his ears, peering anxiously at me over black-rimmed glasses. Yes, we are certainly in the vulnerable group. What happened to that bright-eyed young man with fifteen pounds of black hair on his head, the one sporting sideburns that put Elvis to shame? Over his shoulder I see our son also looking expectantly at me, Camus’s The Plague in hand, open halfway.
“Dr. Rieux was only too well aware of the serious turn things had taken.” I think of our other boy, locked down in New York where the virus is on a vicious rampage. I send my child a panic-stricken WhatsApp message even though it is the middle of the night there. He answers, “I am fine ma, don’t stress,” and goes back to sleep. He is brave, that one, and sensible too.
So finally it has come marching in, with remarkable audacity and crackling energy, generating fear, closing down schools, colleges, businesses, shops, restaurants, hotels. Blowing away vendors and hawkers, leaving streets deserted and even the public parks locked. It comes, this COVID-19, not with the saints but with spring. Those glorious, wondrous, fragrant, colorful couple of weeks in Punjab when normally you can imagine that all is well with the world. A time when gulmohar trees burst into brilliant red flaming flowers, regular ordinary vegetation replicates itself overnight, as if possessed of some wild crazy RNA, in places you could not think possible. Rows upon rows of bluish-purple petunias, golden nasturtiums, hollyhocks, snapdragons, gleeful sunflowers, bold dahlias, and lush bougainvillea laden with voluptuous bunches of magenta, violet, and burned-orange clusters draped over walls. And roses! Read more »