Lockdown 4: People
I lean my head on the window and look outside. The rain is pouring heavy, bashing and dashing against the windowpane. I see it wash over the pavement, the yellow and orange leaves that fall off the trees during the day are now wet, scattered all around the floor. From where I stand, it looks like a painting of multi-coloured leaves has been painted on the pavement. As I look up and back away from the window, I am now face to face with my own reflection covered in multiple little drops of rain. I look at her attentively. If I move my left arm, she will move her left arm too. If I look away, she will look away too, but if I stand there contemplating her eyes, her nose allowing my sight to examine her lips, this other human being in front of me, which in fact is very much myself will be looking right back at me. I wonder if this is what isolation and solitude feel like, the desperation to cross-examine and be close to, as close to another human being as I am close to myself right now. Then I turn around and hear a tune, this melody coming from another room in the house. Am I hallucinating again? I recognise the voice, the singer. I know this song. Then suddenly it dawns on me, as John Lennon sings, ‘Imagine all the people/Living life in peace’, how utterly lonely and dull life has felt recently and how the lack of other people has made me look at myself and not even recognise who the person standing in front of me is.
Have we become so devoid of meaning that we cannot possibly understand that the only way out of this pandemic is by connecting to ourselves and find other people to connect with? Earlier on, when I was looking out the window, I saw a couple walking by, shielding from the rain under an umbrella and I thought that that is the way it should be. I mean they were not even social distancing and I did not question why they were not because as much as social distancing has become the norm overnight, I would still like to live in a world where you do not have to be afraid of people. Where being happy is more common than being afraid. Where looking at crowds coming together, does not cause me any discomfort nor seeing more than five people dining in a group does not make me wonder how many are they and that they are not following the rules. If you just stop for a moment to look at yourself on the window and see through you that there are in fact two of you staring at each other. However, one of you is looking inside out and the other is looking out to the person who is inside. There is the you who is locked up at home in a cell, counting the days left to get out and then, there is the you that is out there in the world, somewhere in a restaurant with family, on the pub with friends, watching people getting together and live life the way it is. There is a split right now between the want and craving to be touched and seen by other people, to get together with friends and the need we have to keep ourselves away from each other so we can be safe. But that is quite a contradiction because we need each other to be saved from ourselves and yet, all we have been asked is to stay away from one another. That is why technology has come into place and we are only able to see faces through a screen but the screen is not the same and texting someone new feels like having an interaction with Siri. You start wondering if new connections are even real and if the old ones are ever going to last. How far are we willing to go to keep it on like this until we give up, or the wish to be heard and seen becomes an obsession? Our thoughts are so loud, I could not go a day living inside my head.
But then again, what option do we have? This is when you realise you need people more than ever, you need to keep in touch with family, set weekend sessions with friends and trust that that new guy you met on social media is not going to disappear on you before this is over. Trust is all we have and trust that things will settle and we will be able to enjoy each other’s company again, but for now, we have to put in the extra effort and trust people will do the same.
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