Are you even there?

(TRIGGER WARNING: I have jotted down some reflections below on the pandemic, about the “system” and the response to devastation by the powers that be. I acknowledge that it is an achingly draining topic for many of us, with the tragic losses we see all around. I also wondered if it is right to write anything negative on the epic mishandling we have witnessed. I have chosen to share this poem despite these thoughts, because I believe that recording one’s thoughts in these times (a) serves as a bookmark for the future, and (b) censoring oneself to avoid asking questions and remaining positive is just toxic positivity, and absolves those who deserve these questions. Please read this only if you are comfortable with broaching this topic. You can always drop me a text to discuss this poem, or anything at all, any time. In these times, solidarity and time with friends and family, and engagement with each other will see us through.)

Are you even there
to see what’s becoming of us?
I never expected much from
you, true, but are you there?

See the nameless body bags
covered up by sand next to Ganga.
Are your heads buried in there too,
refusing to look at our dead?
Acknowledge what is happening!
At least now, open your eyes!

See the smoke-filled roads next
to crematoriums, and the earth
swelling up in the graveyards.
In 2021, is this how we count the dead,
by being grave-watchers and pyre-counters?

Inhale. Exhale. This is too much.
This kills us today. So, do not point
away and duck this, I chose you-
ARE YOU EVEN THERE?

Today there is just silence, you
have muffled all our pain and protest.
Weary and numb, I shake my head,
each new loss- just a flesh wound by now.

I write this today to remind myself, you make
millions walk on roads, you vanish when
millions gasped, you tear down my history,
my sanity, and with each excess, you make
me too tired to ask you if you even care.

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