In close quarters frequent meeting of the eyes can lead to imaginary duels. Wearing dark glasses at home may help.
This song no longer plays on our lips: Hum tum ek kamre mein bandh ho, aur chaabi kho jaaye... Because the worst has happened, we are locked in together whether we like it or not, with the house keys rusting in a draw somewhere.
The man or woman we dreamed about, sighed over and pined for are now with us 24/7. No need to text or sext, no need to flirt or joke. He/she is right there, and even at gun-point we may not be able to recall what drew us to them in the first place. The fairy tale has morphed into a medical thriller. Snow White is tired of cooking for the seven dwarfs and the dwarfs are tired of being nagged. Cinderella snores at midnight, Prince Charming found out, and he wears her glass slippers when she is sleeping, she found out... The list of first-hand disappointments is endless.
What does one do if closeted with people they don’t like during the lockdown? Of course, the hatred could have started midway or even very recently like 8 a.m. this morning. Maybe we enthusiastically shut the front door with this very person inside with us, only to find this is not the person we thought this person was. Now what?
See, murder is out. Don’t even think about it. Contract killers are not back at their desk yet, and you may not be able to afford them having lost your job. You have to do the killing yourself. Then there is the matter of living with a corpse. However much you hated them when they were alive, their body odour after death can’t endear them to you any further. You cannot dispose of the body easily either. Someone is bound to notice if you pretend to go out urgent grocery-shopping dragging a rather large parcel behind you. And don’t you think the knife in your victim’s back is bound to distract a policeman even though you are shouting ‘coronavirus, coronavirus’ as cause of death? On the plus side, your enemy is gone; on the minus side, your new roomie is a hardened prisoner.
Prolonged eye contact is harmful to arch-rivals. In close quarters frequent meeting of the eyes can lead to imaginary duels. Wearing dark glasses at home may help.
The politest conversation will sound like open sarcasm when we rub others the wrong way. But it is impossible to watch what we say when life itself is so uncertain; we are under the impression everything we say may be what others remember us by, that these are our last words. Which may not go down well with those who are trapped with us. When asked who finished the milk, no one wants to hear ‘I first drank coffee at a farmhouse in Coorg’.
The seatbelt sign is on and the pilot has no idea when this flight will land. We are stuck in the middle with foes in the aisle and window seats... Take a deep breath. Killing someone is obviously a challenge, but getting killed may be a breeze.Shinie Antony is a writer and editor based in Bangalore. Her books include The Girl Who Couldn't Love, Barefoot and Pregnant, Planet Polygamous, and the anthologies Why We Don’t Talk, An Unsuitable Woman, Boo. Winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Asia Prize for her story A Dog’s Death in 2003, she is the co-founder of the Bangalore Literature Festival and director of the Bengaluru Poetry Festival.