I dream of the world falling silent. Not dead, just silent. Silent and still. Not a world where a chill of ice freezes the gurgle of the lake but a world where the lake’s gurgle decides it finally wants to silence itself. The orange bird in the tree with the thickest trunk is a picture. The bird isn’t lost in the flutter of the spring leaves and the bird isn’t lost in the fall of the autumn leaves and it finally isn’t lost in the fight to make its song known. The bird is still, swallowed in its own stillness, the bird just is.

My mother sleeping next to me is not my mother anymore. My mother sleeping next to me is no one’s mother. She is no one’s wife, no one’s daughter. My mother sleeping next to me is no one. She is not a lady and she does not have my eyes and I do not have hers. Similarities demand recognition and she cannot see. I leave her in the bed knowing she will never rise again. Finding solace in the truth that she isn’t dead, just awake within herself.

I walk into the streets where the men stand with their eyes open, asleep, awake. With men wearing their flesh for coffins and women with flowers in their hair, their graves already adorned. They left the house in preparation of their funeral but they aren’t dead, just quiet. Just stationary. They don’t know what they are for their thoughts have all risen, cumulated above their heads and dispersed into the sky of the picture they now are.

I am the eyes. I am neither frozen, nor immobile. I can shout, I can tear, I can move, I am breathing. But so are they. But I am different. I am alive. But so are they. I am different. I speak and scream but there is no language and my voice fights to make its song known. I touch and probe them but there is no sensation so I touch myself. I can feel, I can feel. I tell them I can feel but they don’t believe me, they don’t answer. But I know I can feel. I will continue to touch myself until they believe I can feel. Until I can feel.

I will live for two days, maybe three with these men and women stopped in the streets. With these lights burning to eternity for there is no one to turn them off, with these records sung by these very men from when they had voices. I will embrace my brothers and my sisters when I feel alone in this street filled with people and I will kiss the lips that don’t return the favor.

I might roam around town, might skip across the border carrying the gaze of these men and women who can’t stop me anymore, who don’t see me anymore. But oh, the buses have stopped and the drivers are asleep, awake. And I never learnt how to drive.

I might jump into the ocean with no whales to harm me anymore. The seagulls above me are a painting. They don’t circle in flight, they don’t cry. They just stare. Inwards. I am being looked at but never seen. I am being heard but never listened to. I dream of a world where I am finally alone. And I jump into the ocean knowing there is no one left to save me. I could go for a swim and think about who I would’ve liked to bring with me, awake. Only awake. Half asleep but fully awake. At least partly awake. I am awake. I know I am. The tides don’t fold in and the waves aren’t hungry to drown me. And I never learnt to swim.  

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Viveka Goswami

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