Story 1: Free, at last
The park bench is rough. I run my fingers up and down the wood and feel a splinter trying to get under my skin. Ah! I feel alive.
In my hand is an apple. Red, round, shiny. I take a bite and chew it slowly, very slowly. The juice slowly spreads in my mouth, trickles down my throat. This, is bliss.
There is sun is in the sky and it’s falling on my face. My arms, my legs, every exposed part of my body. My mind doesn’t say ‘it’s hot’. It just says ‘wonderful’.
After 30 months of lockdown, I am finally ‘free’. They said it was a ‘temporary measure’ to contain the virus. The first 21 days were kind of nice. A break from normal life.
But then, they lifted it and within 2 weeks it was back with a vengeance. So we had another lockdown, and another, and yet another. Until we lost track of time.
What day of the week is it anyway? Don’t know.
What do we wake up and do each morning? Don’t know.
When will this nightmare end? Don’t know.
We tried keeping ourselves busy, of course. Taking online classes for everything. Learning new recipes. Catching up with old friends on Zoom and Skype.
But I missed normal life. Routine, humdrum, things I took for granted. Oh, what I would have given to just walk out of home and buy bread from the corner shop.
I was one of the lucky ones, I know. Who went to sleep at night on a full stomach. Across the world, people succumbed to hunger and disease.
Social security, government grants and doles were not enough. For man does not live to eat alone. Isolated, stripped of freedom, starved of hope, the human race lost its humanity.
We became statistics in the news – X infected, Y dead, Z recovered.
For months, scientists were working on a vaccine. It took much longer than expected. Finally, 26 months into the lockdown, they made the grand announcement.
“We are all saved.”
Well, not ‘all’, of course. The vaccine does not come cheap. And there is limited production. So, you must be able to pay for it and be lucky to receive it.
It’s what you might call a game of Human Roulette.
I am one of the Chosen Few. A jab in the arm and 2 days of fever, is what it cost. And now, my mobile phone flashes ‘green’ when I walk out of my apartment.
I can buy bread from the corner shop but sadly, the corner shop is closed. So is the barber, the baker, the furniture-maker. Out of business, or out of this world, I wonder.
And so, I sit on a park bench and cherish the moment. In a way I never ever did before. I wish there were children and grandparents and lovers on the grass. Maybe, someday.
Ah, that glorious day!
I am waiting to be assigned a task in service of the nation. Or, should I say the world. For the only way to fight this virus is to dissolve our differences. And come togther, as One.
In a galaxy far, far away: Alpha to Beta, alpha to beta, ‘Do you copy?’
Beta to Alpha; ‘Copied. Trial successful… 41672 homo sapiens implanted with controller chip via vaccine.”
Colonisation is really, that simple.