Delhi’s Bandaged Heart – Shivangi Sharma’s Poem on Corona, Sector 15, Gurgaon
Poetry in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It feels like a lifetime ago, when Shivangi Sharma would take the auto rickshaw from home to HUDA metro station, board the Yellow Line train to Green Park, and then hail another auto to Lady Shri Ram College for Women in south Delhi.
But as weird as it seems, the last time she followed this daily routine was just some weeks ago, in March. “On that day, I was reading (Sadar Hasan) Manto’s short story Toba Tek Singh in the metro, and in the auto I was listening to Yuh Hi Chala Hai song (from the movie Swades) on the phone,” says Ms Sharma, 20, from the isolation of the third floor apartment in Gurgaon’s Sector 15 in the Greater Delhi Region that she shares with her parents and sister.
Talking on WhatsApp, the English Hons. student suddenly bursts into the said song. The woman has often participated in karaoke sessions and slam poetry in her college cafe—which, as any humble LSRite will remind you, is not a canteen — and on hearing her voice one cannot be surprised.
Like for all of us, Ms Sharma’s life has been deeply affected by the pandemic. “It is hard to establish a routine when you are in free fall,” she says, relating her first days of lockdown to a line by writer Intizar Hussain—“Time kept on passing but it didn’t pass.”
Nevertheless, she is trying to make the best out of the horrid circumstances. “These days I try to wake up sooner and sooner, to finally take advantage of my east-facing apartment to witness the sunrise.”
Closely following the great distress caused by the pandemic on a large number of people, especially the migrants, Ms Sharma has grown more conscious of her privilege “but I find it difficult to make a contribution because I have to stay at home.” Even so, she now daily spreads out torn pieces of white bread for the birds who visit her balcony. Or daliya, or whatever is at hand.
When Ms Sharma longs to go out, she closes the door of her bedroom, turns on the fairy lights and the Bluetooth speakers, and start singing some jazz or sufi songs, and “imagine myself to be in the company of loved ones, at a place where my mind takes me to.”
And, oh yes, when her mind crams up with too many thoughts and feelings, she ends up writing a poem. Here she shares one she recently composed, on these coronavirus times. (The photos of her with her music instruments in her room were taken with great difficulty, due to the poor connection, through the phone screen that connects her to The Delhi Walla.)
I close my eyes in my self isolation from Corona… and I see
suffering and calamity,
The world coming to a diminishing reality.
The fighting spirits resting in peace, alone-
With none in the family claiming their bone.
The dead being relieved
Of death’s greed-
Now, they’re together in peace
And the lonesome beings are turning into beasts.
Can’t we be happy like the singing birds,
Narrating melodies of harmony?
We’re away this once
Nature is celebrating in trance:
Perhaps, we didn’t deserve its blessing glance.
Maybe it has given us time to think and to rethink-
To Believe in its cosmic prowess through the end on the brink,
And pray for a World where Humans act like beings.
Poetry in the times of corona