Survivor’s Diary

Hey there,

This is Aanya. 

It’s been fifteen years since the modern world faced its deadliest pandemic. Covid-19, was it? I think probably more than fifteen years. I’m writing this vlog from my apartment in Mumbai.

Today is April 20th. It is ten degrees outside. It had been raining incessantly for the past three days in a row. The rain finally stopped today morning. Yes, it’s not weird to have showers in April anymore. I know that the seasons used to be a thing back then. Not anymore – thanks to the climate crisis. 

I cannot wait to step outside and get some sunlight. But there’s still too much dust in the air. My glasses detect the air quality index as 397 AQI. It’s become slightly better because of the rain. I have been locked inside the apartment for more than two months because of the Pico virus pandemic. I couldn’t even open my bedroom window because the next building, which is at a one-hand distance, is coded red. 

Anyway, I’m trying to pick my clothes for the day, but there’s too much to match. I think I’ll go with a simple white top and blue pants. I guess I’ll wear my denim jacket. Yes, you are right! It’s trending again. Besides, that jacket has an attached viro mask. It keeps me protected from at least 70 percent of viruses out there. I haven’t upgraded it yet, though. The premium version of the mask comes with better air quality, and you can skip three ads a day. I heard from my friend Ron that Google recently launched masks with in-built ear pods. How cool is that? But then the government has partnered with Google. So, you have to listen to the president’s speech at least once a week, or your ear pods’ subscription gets put on hold. Yes, the president! We don’t have a prime minister anymore – only one president and only one party! We don’t have voting rights to choose the president either. But then, we can vote for our cities. The city with the most votes gets to have the president visit them in person. The rest of the cities will still have the president’s holograms to interact with, which are at every 200 meters.  

So, I am finally going out. Since my phone is doing all the writing, we can continue to be in the conversation. I am heading toward the central park. It’s the largest one in the city and my skin desperately needs sunlight. Doctors say it’s better than vitamin D shots. 

Anyway, here I am at the park. I need to key in my citizen code at the entrance. The AI will detect my social appreciation score. Those with more than 10k followers can move to the green zone. It is less crowded and more frequently sanitized. I am still at 8k. If you’re watching or listening to this vlog, please give as many hearts as you can.  

I’m sitting in the blue zone. It’s slightly better than the yellow zone. Fortunately, the park is less crowded today. I’m wearing a mask that covers my whole face. Please don’t feel bad for me. People can still see each other’s faces on their masks’ screens. We can interact virtually without directly talking to each other. We hardly do the latter anymore. Oh, I see someone in my vicinity just sent me hearts for my vlog. Thank you!

The last time I was sitting here, I found a match on the Purple app. It’s a dating app where you can meet people virtually. A few people even catch up in person. The app is integrated with my mask. I can put it on a search mode or hide myself to be unavailable. It’s interesting. People are a lot more honest on their profiles these days. There is a section to reveal if you are a carrier or under clinical depression. It helps your future match learn about you beforehand. A lot many people have also identified themselves as asexual these days. They say that they’d rather have a conversation with someone than sex. And that’s usually harder to find.

Okay! It looks like I’ve absorbed enough vitamin D for today. I think it’s time for me to go back home. I need to pack for my evening ride to Dharmshala. My parents stay there. They never moved to Mumbai because the air quality is slightly better over there. It would take me fifteen minutes or so to reach Dharmshala by the hyperloop train.

I can’t wait to see them. The recent lockdowns prevented me from visiting them for months together. They have a beautiful indoor garden and you can sit there without a mask. Moreover, they have two cats and a dog. I miss them. My dad is a writer. You wouldn’t believe it, but they both still write with their hands. Ron didn’t buy it the first time I told him. So, I took him there to visit them. It was quite embarrassing. My mom couldn’t stop but show off her collection of screenshots. She has an array of screenshots of writings by her and my dad. Some of their blogs date back to the pre-pandemic era. Dad says that he would often go to coffee shops when he was young and write his blogs. Imagine sitting among people at an open café and without masks! Sometimes, I get a strong feeling that I should have been born in the 2000s. I think I belong to that time. My mom laughed when I told her this. I was like, “why is that funny?” She said, “it’s not. It’s just that your father and I would often say the same thing. We always thought that we belonged to a different time than the one we were living in. We always wished to go back to the 80s!”

Oblivion

I began this day as I do most days,
Pouring coffee over the plants in my head.
Filtered pictures with a #throwback,
Make me yearn for places outside the window pane.
But I have reached the rock bottom,
The social tells me I can’t scroll no more.
A tall, sturdy tree is who I have become.
Mourning the mundane work from home.
The seasons blend in the background,
as I’m glued to yet another meeting invite.
With another tall, sturdy tree on a Zoom call.
Is this how the lonely forests are born?

Rocketman

The year is 2030.
There is a new airport called ‘An Egress’. It’s the same place from where I had boarded a small spaceship into the galaxies to look for a new home.
Writing this letter to you from a thousand light years away.
You must’ve been worried that you did not hear from me for long.
That’s because,
Sometimes the mammoth space tosses the bottled love letters all the way up to the moons.
I do have a good news though.
Yesterday, I found what could be our new home. It’s near Titan, the moon orbiting the Saturn.
Our new planet is strange. It has violet skies and frozen lakes. It is hauntingly beautiful.
The trees grow wild here and the roads aren’t paved.
The days are short and the nights are eerily silent – Like a flower with a hand grenade.
I wish I could tell you stories of all the planets I fell in love with.
Of all the homes they made inside me.
Of all the languages I did not know I could speak.
I remember you saying once that we often fall in love with unrequited things.
Like me thinking the universe will love us back, but I know she has too many other galaxies burning in her hands.
We are but tiny specs hoping for her to return our call.
Earth was a beautiful dream, the one that we dreamt collectively & ruined with our hands.
I hope once we all depart her, she’ll grow little trees in spaces we should have watered.
Afterall, she’s someone who’s seen a thousand summers and loved us with all the rage of the sea.
We may travel to every universe, but we’ll belong to her in all of them.