This is a letter to the season we lost, the wisdom we gained and the alienation we defied trying to make sense of the world around us. This is a letter to a spring spent in isolation.
artwork by Bidisha Mahapatra
I moved to my mother's house while you were in early bloom during the month of March. The suffocating heat from the coast of Mumbai, my city of dreams was one where the dust and soot made all the seasons alike except monsoon, which was vivid, endless. I packed a suitcase full of clothes, left my job and flew to my coastal home town in Odisha. The beginnings of a deadly virus was floating in the air. But I was blissfully unfettered and said my goodbyes without any thought. The moment I stepped into my old childhood home, you welcomed me with a gush of bougainvillaea, summer air, muddy flowers and humidity. I couldn't breathe, flooded with the memories of earth and wet rain. I wanted to go back to the city, bright lights, endless days and blissful ignorance. I felt trapped. I wanted to leave the minute I stepped inside, crossed the threshold. You were glorious in full bloom waiting to embrace me and I had forgotten all about you like every other faint memory from my childhood.
Our house is very old and my mother is a gardener with shears and tools, small ceramic bugs and exotic seeds. She works like an alchemist, day and night propagating roots, mixing flowers, feeding worms. And as I watched her go through this endless cycle I felt caged indoors. Caged inside a season that I couldn't quite reconcile with.
Meanwhile painful memories of the people I left behind, the goodbyes I hadn't said and the freedom I had taken for granted haunted me for days. I wanted to tear through the walls and run. This home was but a testimony to a season I didn't want to experience. I would sit outside for hours surrounded by blooming flowers and I would run wild during the night with nowhere to go, only four corners of a small garden. A garden that held the secrets of the world but gave only a taste of bitter nostalgia. I wanted to be free, to go atop a mountain or run in a valley of yellow flowers and make love. I was confronted with the cruelty of a spring in isolation, a spring to be lived indoors, a spring that will go by.
But everyday that I spent wallowing in your embrace, I realised that there is an underlying frustration, a need to bloom and break free that lives within the happiness of your arrival. It's not a facade but a mirror that reflected my deep sense of isolation followed by a prolonged period of longing. You called for shameless desires slipping into my bones and I had nowhere else to go. So I dreamt of body and mouth, fingertips, all the while waiting for you to become something else. And I learnt to let go. To exist with you till you became me, flesh and bone.
We all live in pools of harmonious existence with nature. And vast periods of avoiding our true self or being uncomfortable in our natural habitat makes us feel alienated. I know deep within, that you have morphed, transformed into the the pandemic itself or maybe the virus taken on some of your colours and agility. The smell of earth and decay. I now live with an abstract sense of time, and the transient feeling of you leaving. The flowers outside are still blooming and so is the virus. Everything is spreading despite itself, growing and syncing with the smell of spring.
Your seasonal friend,
lost and found.
Bidisha Mahapatra is a writer, visualiser and artist. She designs meaningful narratives by blending words, images and silences. She has worked in field of advocacy communication as a copywriter for CSR-led initiatives. She uses her background in politics, art, film and theatre to raise awareness and political consciousness about social inequalities and human welfare. Currently, she is using her skills as a visualiser and writer to explore the dimensions of persuasive storytelling in the changing post-pandemic world.