Ghanashyam Bista’s corona sorrowGhanashyam walked cautiously, carefully, so as to not step onto the wet dew-soaked grass.
The thin tip of the fir tree pointed towards the sky like an accusing finger. The hills stood strong behind the hazy clouds, like a distant dream. As the golden rays of sunlight penetrated into the calm morning mist, a soft orange glow floated above the dewy grass. The birds chirped and the air was filled with the smell of morning. Dewdrops trembled on the blue steel gates as Ghanashyam Bista, pushing them, sailed into Naxal Park.
Ghanashyam walked cautiously, carefully, so as to not step onto the wet dew-soaked grass. He clenched his teeth to stop them from clattering; he made his way to the blue park seat. Rubbing his freezing chin, he sat on the blue seat when a shiver ran through his spine and uttering a soundless cry, he leaped into the air like a shot rabbit. He felt the seat of his pants. It was damp and had a wet leaf sticking out stubbornly.
Throwing away the wet leaf, he sat back on the damp seat. And lifting his chin he looked at the hills in the distance and contemplated. It was curious that yesterday Itahari was like an oven while today Kathmandu was like a refrigerator. The lockdown had tested his patience and he was happy to be out in the open after long.
A vapour loomed over him like a veil. He clutched his jacket and quivered.
“This damned lockdown. This year-long torture!”
During the lockdown he had developed a habit of talking to himself. As he reflected upon his lockdown days, his face changed into that dreamy look. He put his long, sharp chinned face in his hands and looked up. His eyes were red and raw after staring at the mobile screen for long.
The sun, bald as a blonde snooker ball, melted the fog over Ghanashyam Bista. But that failed to cheer him up. Loneliness clung to him like how a drowning man clings to a floating log. Clutching him with its animal claws. His thoughts once again, drifted to the topic of coronavirus.
To the long nights of silent agony.
He had trembled like a leaf at the sight of the faintest shadow. He would talk to himself for long hours into the night. The loneliness had drained his soul. Lockdown had been one long, tiring, exhausting, never ending day that had robbed him of his character. He couldn’t remember the days of the week, the name of his friends, and once for a brief moment he had almost forgotten his very name.
Many days Bista expressed his grief with violence. His mood swung like a pendulum. His heart sank into his stomach and misery breathed from his pores. The whir and clatter of restless thoughts had left him tired and at ill-ease.
“What ho, you,” a voice called from the distance.
Ghanashyam wanted to see who this lowly “you” was so he lifted his head. A figure appeared from the mist with his eyes fixed on Ghanashyam. He sailed towards Ghanashyam like a god floating on a cloud.
An injured, accusing look came over Ghanashyam’s face. He had always considered himself to have a gracious, respectful face that people regarded in silent admiration and addressed him reverentially. The hair on his neck rose. His expression became stern and for the first time he unclenched his teeth to speak. The cold wind blew past Ghanashyam, his teeth clattered, he stiffened and chilled.
The figure leaned into Ghanshyam Bista and said, “My dear chap. Are you alright? You are shaking like a fish out of water.”
The divine voice seemed familiar to Ghanashyam. He fixed his eyes on the face that loomed before him.
He gasped. “I say, Ronil!”
Bista’s eyes lit up, “Ronil Bhetwal, what ho!”
“My dear chap,” said Ronil Bhetwal, choked with emotion. “Seeing you after all these years!”
“Haven’t met each other since high school, eh?”
“No. Nein. Nyet.”
“Met you right after the lockdown dear fellow. How’s everything going?”
Ronil Bhetwal shrugged sadly, “To be quite honest with you, Bista, life has been drained of all its colours.”
For a second a smile crept over Bista’s face. A triumphant feeling rose inside him. His spirits lifted. It is curious how the shortcomings and sorrow of our counterparts often tend to bring people happiness and joy.
“How so?” Bista asked, trembling with giddiness on the inside.
“It’s a long story, chappie. It’s very depressing. You probably don’t want to hear it”
“Oh, is that so?” said Ghanashyam, quietly enjoying the worn-out expression on his friend’s face.
“You know how I always like N.”
“I say,” Ghanashyam cut him off. “I am sorry I forgot I have relatives at my home, I will have to cook food for them. My dear chap. I’ll have to go. You have my sympathies. “
Saying this, Ghanashyam Bista turned his back towards the sad face of Mr Bhetwal and walked briskly and happily out. Forgetting all about his predicament.