Hassan Tahir Latif
It seems that the spell that was initially cast over us when we first confronted our confinement has been lifted and the carefully crafted illusion permeated with scents of spring flowers and banana breads has been shattered. In their wake, an unsettling feeling has made its home, compounded by Covid cases that are no longer statistics, but friends, family and acquaintances. An inexplicable, yet at the same time easily identifiable, fear has found its place in the very marrow of our bones.
The past few weeks have deepened this sense of unease. More and more people succumb to illness and others to hatred that is many centuries old. Birds are merely simple creatures again, all magic gone—they’re no longer carrying my messages through portals to other realms. I almost find their chirping an unbearable racket now. Even the sky, once a forget-me-not-blue, is layered with dust that tangibly engulfs us all.
No more sentient trees, no more smiling petunias or weeping pansies. Alas, I fear my garden has closed its doors on me. It’s just a dreary place now with overgrown grass and an unwelcome look.
Was the world ever going to heal itself? I wonder.
Yet, this is not the world I went to sleep in either. People are rising up against brutality and injustice everywhere, even as life resumes its vagaries and the virus delivers deathly blows.
I continue to stay at home, hoping to survive and following a changing world through screens. The revolution might not be televised, but it’ll be streamed for sure.
The sun is unbearable now and my dreams and thoughts float somewhere up in the air, out of my reach. Mad Hatters and Red Queens abound. I guess we never left the Rabbit Hole.
As I lay lost in my summer reveries, I find solace in my books. Recently, I’ve taken to creating short verses from the titles of books. Here are a few:
Meditations in Other Rooms
(yield) Other Wonders
(the) Beloved (remains)
The Duke in his Domain
The Little Prince
(draws) Odd Circles
Strange Pilgrims (on) the
I’m not here to give a speech
Find Me (and)
Call Me by Your Name
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime
Desire, Fame (and) a Cup of
Sake beneath the Cherry Trees
(and in) Babylon’s Ashes
(forges) New Kings
of the World
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Duke in his Domain by Truman Capote
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Odd Circles by Afshan Shafi
Strange Pilgrims by Gabriel García Márquez
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’m Not Here to Give a Speech by Gabriel García Márquez
Find Me by André Aciman
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime by Oscar Wilde
Desire by Haruki Murakami
Fame by Andy Warhol
A Cup of Sake beneath the Cherry Trees by Yoshida Kenkō
Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey
Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey
New Kings of the World by Fatima Bhutto