Before the world was sick, I was sick. Knee deep in work beside my mother, in a camp taking caring of other sick people. So when the news came that the world was shutting down, we took it lightly because we were already shut down. People had to be forced to stay Indoors? That meant nothing to me, I have always been indoors. A stranger to my motherland. An adopted child. What was all the rage about? I kept wondering until the day my mother died.
Death was not what shocked me, I was already familiar with death, it’s smell, it’s sting, it’s aggression. I was surrounded by it. What shocked me was her death, I knew it would happen but not while we were all suffering collectively? What happened to privacy I thought, why couldn’t she wait for her death to be mine.
The world is on fire. But, my world has always been on fire. People are dying. But, people have always been dying around me, in my family, in my country, my people were already dying in large numbers. Why was I expected to respond in an urgent manner to the disgrace of a violent pandemic all of a sudden. I could not understand what was expected of me so I did what I know how to do very well. I went silent, stayed indoors and paid my attention to books, only books and nothing else. I chose to turn my back on this reality. Except for my tentative visitations to the camps to check on ill and displaced strangers, to measure their sadness and see if it had become greater than mine, to sing with them and read to some of the children, to remind myself that even in my destitution I had the privilege of madness. Except for those visits, I wanted nothing else to do with this world anyway so a lockdown meant nothing to me.
I had a girlfriend. I have chosen to forget her name. We met at the camp where both of our mothers worked and naturally we fell into ourselves. Two young intelligent sensual lonely women, what else was there to do? But just before the lockdown she had to leave back to her hometown with her mother and I promised never to try to reach her, I am not friendly with the business of attachments. It made her sad, but I kept my promise. Love is a strange thing, my mother always complained about my lack of interest in people and how it would affect my heart, but I always disagreed with her, I have always been interested in people, I still am. It is things I lack interest for, like love and it’s meaning. My heart is not a lab for attachments, I prefer the solace and mystery of detachment.
Anyway, I had a girlfriend and I have chosen to forget her name. The absence of her friendship, my books, displaced strangers and my mothers death kept me company during the lockdown. When the world chose to open back up, just slightly at first and then wildly, I knew it was time to go. Either that or die with no one to hand out my last written words to like my mother did. If the world has chosen death, then I have to find a way to run away from it.
first published in Sapphic Writers zine.